Joe Girardi Shouldn't Worry About Blaming Brian Bruney

Assigning blame less important than finding bullpen help

Joe Girardi is frustrated with Brian Bruney, because he feels that the reliever deceived the Yankees into thinking his arm was healthier than it really was

"I just think he wasn’t totally forthright in how he was feeling," Girardi said. "We’ve had many talks with him over the last couple of weeks about how you have to tell us exactly what’s going on. It could be that by rushing himself back, he’s never given himself the amount of time he’s needed." 

The frustration is understandable, but misguided. It's understandable, because losing Bruney is just what the shaky Yankees bullpen doesn't need in the midst of their best string of play all season, and it is misguided because Bruney didn't do anything wrong. He said his arm felt fine warming up, fine when he was pitching and then it didn't feel fine afterward. He had tests when he was first injured and more tests last week, none of which have shown structural damage. For Girardi to assume Bruney had a hand in making things worse is irresponsible and unfair, especially when addressing it publicly.

Even if it is true that Bruney made things worse, that's not important right now. What is important is that Bruney is headed to Dr. James Andrews, the renowned surgeon, who will find whatever might be in there and tell the Yankees how long it will be before they have him back in the pen. Assuming the worst, the Yankees will need to make an addition to their bullpen. That's always a tricky proposition, something the Yankees learned last season. 

The Yanks dealt Ross Ohlendorf and Daniel McCutchen, among others, to Pittsburgh for Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady. Marte is on the disabled list, but didn't distinguish himself this year or last. Ohlendorf has held his own in the big league rotation, while McCutchen has pitched well in AAA and both could be helpful in this year's revolving bullpen cast. Or maybe they'd just be more of the same, the point being that predicting the performance of relievers from one year to the next has proven very difficult.

Chad Qualls, Huston Street and the other options mentioned in a thoughtful piece at River Ave. Blues all look like potentially helpful pitchers, but how confident can the Yankees be that any of them will provide a clear upgrade over what's already here? Frustrating decisions that won't be any easier because you feel like there's someone to blame for forcing you to make them.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to and in addition to his duties for

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