Back in July of 2008, the Yankees traded for Damaso Marte. A few months later, they signed him to a three-year deal with an option for a fourth. At $4 million per year, it’s not a tiny contract, but it’s not an especially big one either. Probably a reasonable risk for one of the better left-handed relievers of the past decade.
Problem is, of course, Marte was awful in the 2009 regular season before redeeming himself in the playoffs. Some of the struggles might have been because of an injury, or maybe because of the generally unpredictable nature of major league relievers. Whatever the reason, the Yankees need those problems to go away next season. Having traded away both Phil Coke and Mike Dunn this winter, Marte is by far the top left-handed option on the roster, and one of only three potential left-handed relievers on the 40-man. A fourth option was just added with the minor league signing of Royce Ring.
Despite last year’s ugly season ERA — a shockingly bad 9.45 through 13.1 innings spread across 21 games — Marte was actually good against left-handers last year. As a strictly left-on-left specialist, last season actually gives no reason for concern.
Career vs. LH: .197/.294/.287
2009 vs. LH: .120/.214/.280
Back in 2006, Logan went into spring training having pitched a total of four games above rookie ball, but he somehow made the White Sox opening day roster. With his career suddenly pushed much faster than expected, Logan’s first big league appearance spanned two scoreless innings, but he ultimately had an 8.31 big league ERA that season. Since then, he’s been up and down (in terms of going from the big leagues to the minors, and in terms of his success at the major league level). These are his big league splits the past three years.
2007 vs. LH: .221/.296/.291
2008 vs. LH: .291/.324/.505
2009 vs. LH: .231/.318/.308
Wilkin De La Rosa
The young prospect of the group, De La Rosa is a converted outfielder who pitched last year out of the Double-A rotation. Mark Newman has said De La Rosa is likely to return to the Double-A rotation for the start of 2010, but I’m not ready to completely rule him out of the big league mix. It seems unlikely, but possible that he’ll make such an impression in big league camp that the Yankees change their plans.
2009 AA vs. LH: .159/.274/.262
2008 LA vs. LH: .182/.291/.250
De La Rosa also made three High-A starts in 2008 and three more in 2009, but those sample sizes are too small to mean much.
Signed a minor league deal, Ring will get a chance to pitch in spring training but seems more likely to open the season with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. His career big league splits against lefties are OK but not great (.229 average, but a lot of walks leading to a .350 on-base percentage). He has allowed only two left-handed home runs in 159 career appearances against lefties in the majors.
2009 AAA vs. LH: .208/.296/.264