Re: Bull-pen, Bull-pen, Bull-pen,...
posted at 12/3/2011 12:43 AM EST
In Response to Bull-pen, Bull-pen, Bull-pen,...
[QUOTE] Can someone enlighten me, this is the elephant in the living room. I keep reading about the DH, or a RH bat for RF, what to do with Wake and Tek, more starting pitching, but what about the bull-pen easily to these eyes the most glaring need on the team. The Sox currently have two reliable arms and there is talk of making either Aceves or Bard a starter I don't get it. Teams in this era of baseball carry 7 and 8 relievers,the Cardinals won it all on the backs of their bull-pen.The Sox will not be a post season factor unless they add a minimum of 5 relievers and keep Aceves and Bard in current roles. Where they are going to get these arms I have no idea, but with Nathan, Bell etc already leaving the market it appears the Sox are going on the cheap to fill this need, which is a formula for post-season disaster.
Posted by attic-dan[/QUOTE]
Actually, the Cardinals bullpen was a complete disaster for most of the season, and probably the biggest reason they took all 162 games to squeak into the post-season. Ryan Franklin opened as their closer, and then proceeded to blow 4 of his first 5 save attempts. He was succeeded in the role by Mitchell Boggs, Fernando Salas, Eduardo Sanchez and Jason Motte. Who says you cannot win with closer by committee? That’s a pretty big committee right there.
Most teams do carry 7 relief pitchers, but realistically, only about 3 or 4 of them on any team are worth counting on. After that, they have their specialists and a maybe one or two innings guys, one of whom might be the occasional hot arm they can count on for a brief period.
The Sox do need bullpen help, but the bullpen wasn’t the major problem. The beating it took in September was largely because of overwork thanks to too many starters not making it through the fifth, not because it was built with bad pitchers. I do expect Aceves to jump to the rotation, but not Bard. The Sox are more likely to find a free agent or non-tender option (Joe Saunders?) to fill out the rotation, or maybe gamble on an overflow guy like Josh Outman. (Or both. They’ll need depth.) If the Sox want to move Bard to the rotation, they'd be smarter to simply deal him for a starter.
Doubtful the Sox add 5 relievers. I expect the opening day bullpen to bring back Bard, Albers, Morales, Jenks, and maybe one of Bowden, Doubront, Tazawa or Weiland. (Please not Weiland.) That leaves 2 spots open before filling the Pawtucket bullpen with some depth. They will have some depth there already with Josh Fields and Cesar Cabral hoping to jump to the big club. Do not expect a complete overhaul of the bullpen by adding 5 new pitchers. It’s neither smart not cost-effective to go that route.
The Sox will probably sign a closer. If they are looking for bargains, as reported, don’t expect Ryan Madson. First, he is represented by Boras, not an agent typically associated with bargains. Second, this is not the most experienced closer around, is it? Less than one year in the role – a year he didn’t even stay healthy in – and he is an elite closer? They are more likely to get someone like Matt Capps or Francisco Rodriguez as a closer, both of whom are more experienced, probably cheaper, and much more motivated to reclaim the role somewhere. The last spot could be taken by Dan Wheeler if he accepts arbitration (which he realistically should), or another FA, possibly a lefty (though not needed if they have both Doubront and Morales.) Joel Zumaya has apparently been contacted by Boston, but he is really more Pawtucket depth than opening day material at this point.
Guys to keep an eye on include Chad Qualls, Brad Lidge, Fernando Rodney, Aaron Heilman, Jeremy Accardo, and Chad Durbin or non-tender candidates JP Howell or Ross Ohlendorf to fill out the bullpen. Hopefully they avoid the LHRP free agent crowd, although they might take a flier on Hong-Chin Kuoh if he is non-tendered (very likely). And there is always the possibility of a trade. Atlanta is loaded in the bullpen and needs a shortstop. A deal of Lowrie for Eric O’Flaherty, Kris Medlen or Pete Moylan makes sense for both sides, although the latter two are coming off surgery