Sunday, September 4, 2011

Yankees should prep Robertson for next gig

With David Robertson having mastered the 8th inning, the New York Yankees should start prepping the flame-throwing righty for his next gig: closing games on a full-time basis.

Hopefully, we are nowhere near the day Mariano Rivera decides to call it quits. In the euphoria of winning the World Series, Rivera said he wanted to pitch another five years. He is signed through the end of next season, which makes it three years. Will Mariano want to keep pitching beyond the end of his contract? If he doesn’t, then the Yankees have to be ready.

Robertson may be just the right guy to take the legendary closer’s place. He has a wonderful temperament and has shown that he doesn’t succumb to pressure, proven by his ability to wiggle out of trouble, often of the bases-loaded variety, by striking out hitters left and right. He’s called Houdini for a reason.

In a recent interview with Kim Jones, Rivera said Robertson has the goods to one day take his place. But Rivera also said Robertson needed to learn some things, likely referring to Robertson’s penchant for being wild on occasion. John Wetteland also had a reputation for making things interesting by putting guys on base, but he turned out to a great closer for a World Series winning ballclub. There’s no reason Robertson can’t have the same success.

Although the day may not be near, Joe Girardi and the Yankees can start grooming Robertson by putting him in the closer’s spot on days when Rivera, who is after all 41 years old even if he doesn’t show it, needs some rest. That way Robertson can learn from the master about what it really takes to be a closer and can be ready when the job becomes available in the hopefully distant future.

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