Will The High-socks Keep Leading?

Now that the World Series is over its time for baseball to turn their attention to the hot stove months, the time when teams start to make moves in order to better their team.
The Yankees already made some moves when it comes to upper management, but now they turn their attention to more pressing matters with the players on the field.
Right now the big zinger seems to be what will happen with David Robertson?

Photo from the NYPost
Photo from the NYPost

The Alabama native is most likely set to hit the free-agent market according to reports, while the Yankees are seemingly leaning towards extending him a $15.3 million qualifying offer.

The Yankees had an opportunity to resign Robertson before the beginning of the 2014 season, similar to what they did with Brett Gardner. However, seeing as Robertson still needed to prove whether or not he could handle becoming the Yankees closer, it made sense for the Yankees to wait and see.
But now that Robertson has proven that he can indeed be the closer for the Yankees- he finished the season with a 3.08 ERA, 3rd in saves in the American League with 39 saves, a 1.05 WHIP and 96 strikeouts in 64.1 innings- it’s time for the Yankees to make a choice.
Now from what I’ve seen in reports from various outlets such as CBS Sports, it seems that the Yankees want to keep Robertson, and it would seem Robertson would prefer to stay.
With seemingly mutual interest to remain part of the pinstriped family, the Yankees should offer Robertson a multi-year deal. There are already six teams interested, the Yankees should not let him get away, as long as it’s within reason of course.
There are many statistical reasons on why Robertson is worth the money he will likely command in free agency, but let’s take a lot at some off the field reasons for why he remain in pinstripes.
Robertson is a home-grown player, he was brought up in 2008 along with Brett Gardner. The next two years he quietly did his job in the middle innings, trying to find his spot in the bullpen.
2011 was the year he broke out, his best season so far in his career, where he finished with a sparkling ERA of 1.08. The 2011 season was also when the nickname “Houdini” was coined, since Robertson got himself in a lot of jams with RISP, with a career high 35 walks.
There is also the fact that for the last six years Robertson has been under Rivera’s wing so to speak. Robertson’s 2011 season really showed the Yankees just how good Robertson is as a reliever, sparking talks about him possibly becoming the heir to the closer throne.
Robertson and Rivera became close, with Robertson taking in all that he could from the legend, watching as Rivera went into the 9th night after night.
Robertson brings an invaluable asset when it comes to the closer role that no one else has, and that is that he learned from the master himself.
He saw how Rivera handled himself both on the mound and off it. He observed his quiet but fierce demeanor, the way that one cutter would always seem to devastate everyone who tried to hit it.
Rivera believed that Robertson would be the one to take over, so he made sure to teach him what he could, and help him harness his talents.
Of course, I’m not saying Robertson will be Rivera, because he’s not, no one is. But you can’t help but notice the impression that he made on Robertson.
While the Yankees might have a great future closer in Dellin Betances, the kid does not have the experience nor the wisdom that Robertson has.
Betances has only had one full season in the majors, and while it’s clear he has really come into his own in the bullpen after years of struggles as a starter in the minors, I don’t think it’s wise to have Betances take on this job.
Betances might very well be the type of player you take a risk on, believing that the risk doesn’t overshadow the reward, but why not keep Robertson if you can?
The combination of Betances and Robertson in the 8th and 9th was one of the best in the game. Without Robertson you take a critical piece of the bullpen away, one that can’t be so easily replaced.
Sure you would have Betances fill in the 9th, but then who takes over in the 8th? The 7th? While Adam Warren and Shawn Kelley have been reliable assets, no Robertson would just weaken the bullpen and add more questions to a team that already has so many other questions to answer.
Another thing to consider is that Robertson is the leader of the bullpen; as the closer it’s his job to set an example for the others and he has done that.
In a player profile posted by MLB.com, it notes that Robertson has “quiet leadership and calm demeanor on the mound” and that it’s reflected in the rest of the bullpen.
Betances called Robertson a “role model” and the leader of the bullpen. This has been seen throughout the whole season. Everyone that comes out of that bullpen does their job quietly, not showing as much emotion.
That’s the way Robertson handles it and its reflected in everyone else that comes before him.
“In all the years I worked with Mariano the biggest thing I tried to learn from him was consistency,” Robertson said in the MLB player profile video. “I tried to do what I did in years past in the 8th inning but in the ninth inning. I want to be the guy that can be counted on in the back end of the bullpen.”
Aside from the five blown saves that Robertson had this past season, he was that guy that everyone counted on; in fact, because of him and the rest of the guys in that pen, the Yankees were able to stay in the playoff hunt for as long as they did.

Robertson has quietly become one of the leaders on the Yankees team as he has progressed in his career. (photo from yankeesgoyard.com)
Robertson has quietly become one of the leaders on the Yankees team as he has progressed in his career. (photo from yankeesgoyard.com)

Knowing all of this, I say the Yankees should offer Robertson a three-year deal, perhaps in the $30 million area, or about $10-$12 million a year.
He has proved year after year that the he is one of the best relievers in the big leagues, and while the Yankees have Betances, and other potential relievers in the minor leagues, it would be a shame to lose the role model and leader that is David Robertson.

What are your thoughts? Do you think Robertson should stay or are you comfortable handing off the job to Betances?


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