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Thinking About the Bullpen (Again...)

Yesterday, Frank Malzone repeated a common Yankee complaint: without Joba in the pen, there's a 'hole' at the 8th inning spot.

2007 Batting Against:
1st: .241/.311/.365
2nd: .300/.364/.462
3rd: .275/.345/.456
4th: .283/.340/.441
5th: .287/.354/.412
6th: .265/.351/.412
7th: .273/.361/.430
8th: .263/.340/.439
9th: .207/.276/.282

The 'trouble' for Yankee fans is that the 8th inning guy isn't measurably better than the 6th or 7th inning guy.

We could take the pfisty approach and say "The entire bullpen has been a giant hole since 2005."  I can't argue too much.

Or we could ask ourselves, what would be an acceptable performance in the 8th inning; who can do it and what would it cost to get him?

The middle ground between our 2007 8th and 9th innings is roughly .230/.310/.350.  Unfortunately, all the relievers around that mark last season (Dave Weathers, Scott Shields, Kevin Gregg) are going to require trading more than their worth to pry them away from their current team.

LaTroy Hawkin's line was .255/.305/.393, but reading it comes with some caveats.  At home (in Colorado) he ran .200/.264/.320, but on the road (in the NL) he went .302/.345/.462.  The best I can make of that is that on the road he was himself (career .286/.341/.443), while he was incredibly lucky at home.

So Hawkins is about the same as Farnsworth (.256/.336/.415) and Viz (.235/.336/.384).

To back up my perceptions about the other contenders, I checked out the splits from the other 3 AL playoff teams.  

The Red Sox were better in the 7th than the 8th (Okajima).  Josh Beckett actually faced the most 7th inning batters for the Red Sox, then Mike Timlin.  Their 8th inning line was .236/.310/.371.
The Indians were actually best in the 8th (Betancourt and Perez).  Their 8th inning ran .222/.290/.343.
And the Angels (Scott Shields) were comparable to the Yanks: .244/.330/.393.

It seems that the real issue is the slugging percentage.  And the mediocre pitching.