Byung Hyun Kim
Jermaine Van Buren
…and last but not least, Javier Lopez.
From bullpen by committee to Tavarez-Seanez and the career implosion of a should-be Red Sox legend, let's just say that putting together a capable corps of relief pitchers hasn't exactly been Theo Epstein's most successful venture as general manager.
Yes, there have been flashes of brilliance, late 2003 and 2004 are the most noteworthy, thanks to guys like Williamson, Timlin, Embree, and Foulke. But on the whole ... well, this list has Jimmy Anderson and Kevin Tolar on it. Need we say more?
How many of the above would you perhaps consider having been a "solid" contributor during their tenure here? A dozen, perhaps? Let's be kind and say 15. For a few (Delcarmen, Hansen) it's too early to tell. A few others (Remlinger, White) were disasters from Day One.
So, let's say 15, OK? That's 15 pitchers out of a list of 56 that we can at least find something nice to say about. As for the others, if you can't say something nice ... well, just say it a little quieter at least.
The latest attempt at fixing yet another combustible bullpen was trading David Riske to the White Sox for lefthanded specialist Javier Lopez, a guy I liked better when he was named Mike Myers. Lopez's scouting report goes like this: "Barely has big-league stuff."
I listened to Peter Gammons on WEEI on the drive home yesterday afternoon, saying the White Sox were actually interested in acquiring Seanez in exchange for Lopez. But the Red Sox were hesitant to do so with the hopes Seanez may still turn it around this season once he finds his fastball. This would naturally explain the screeching of brakes and five-car pileup at the intersection of 24 and 93 in case you drove by in wonderment.
Not to say that Riske was an integral piece here, but I fear this means more work for Seanez, Tavarez, and Timlin in the long run in that Lopez isn't going to be going more than one batter all that often. Sure, that's one more batter than Riske was getting used to, but that's beside the point. If Seanez were given a ticket out of town, I would have rushed to the nearest pub because someone would surely have been buying drinks in celebratory fashion.
But, no go. Anyway, as for Lopez ...
"He's a very uncomfortable at-bat for lefties, but he has been effective against righties," Epstein said yesterday. "I'm sure Tito [Francona] will use him to get out good lefties, but he's not a guy you always have to yank after a 1/3 of an inning."
Righties, by the way, are hitting .323 off Lopez for his career, almost 80 points higher than lefties. So let's hope by "not always" Epstein and Terry Francona mean "every darn time."
Epstein admitted that building a bullpen is not something that this administration has done well, which is kind of like Big Dig chairman Matt Amorello acknowledging he hired the wrong people, but admission is the first step to fixing a problem. Leaks in the bullpen, leaks in the tunnel.
"It's not easy, and it's not something we've been particularly good at lately," Epstein said. "I couldn't' believe we were fourth in bullpen ERA, and had the best run differential from the seventh inning on heading into this [Twins] series. [That's because] Papelbon has done an amazing job as well as Mike Timlin when healthy."
And ... oh, that's it. Two guys in the 'pen have done amazing jobs. We should start marketing t-shirts that say, "I spent $130 million and all I got was Rudy Seanez."
Fifty-six different faces and counting. More moves are surely to be made yet as the Red Sox try to fix a constantly nagging issue for them. Whether it's Grady Little managing it, or Epstein putting it together, the Boston Red Sox bullpen remains a badly put together puzzle. With pieces that, more often than not, simply do not fit.