When speaking to the media today at the GM meetings, Brian Cashman told reporters that he is not sure David Robertson is ready to be the team's closer. Robertson's lack of closing experience was the main reason Cashman cited for his doubt, but he also acknowledged that Robertson very well could end up being their ninth inning guy. They just aren't ready to hand him the job just yet.
This could be taken a couple of ways: Is Cashman being non-committal about the closer role in hopes of bringing in competition for Robertson, or is the team really that unsure about the player who most closely studied under Mariano Rivera for the past few years. It seems like it may be the former, because very little is to be gained by publicly down-playing their confidence in Robertson as the next closer.
Grant Balfour and Joe Nathan are two relievers on the market with experience at the closer position, and Cashman acknowledged that he was going to explore all the options. The team was previously linked to Balfour through rumors last week. If the Yankees are hoping to land one of them to close, Robertson could very well find himself back in the eighth inning again for 2014.
With all the money that the team needs to spend to improve real areas of weakness, it seems silly to put so much of it toward a closer when Robertson has been one of the best relievers in baseball for the last couple years. Mariano Rivera was the exception to the rule of relievers being fungible for so long, but it seems unlikely that the difference in Joe Nathan and David Robertson would be great enough to warrant the difference in salary it would command. The day when Rivera was not there to man the ninth inning was always going to come, and who better to have absorbed so much of his knowledge than the guy next to him in the bullpen for the last years of his career?
Do you believe in David Robertson as the Yankees' next closer, or do you think it's worth bringing in one of the big names on the free agent market to replace Rivera?