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Friday, December 23, 2005

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Depressing but fair, Jason. Middle relief seems to me like the last refuge of a (slowly) drowning team.

Merry Christmas!

Putting together a bullpen seems to me to be one of the toughest jobs a GM and manager and pitching coach have because performance from relief pitchers seems so inconsisent from year to year. Hopefully the Phils will catch lightning in a bottle with some of these guys.


One thing that could help the pen is having the starters go deeper into games. In '05 they came out of games in the 5th or 6th inning way too often.

Let's remember that the Polanco-Urbina trade was made as much to keep UU out of Florida as to land him here; i.e., there are a lot of factors that go into trades and building a bullpen. In the end, it was a shortsighted decision on multiple levels.

boy, having polanco at third last year (as many ppl were pleading for) instead of Bell might have gotten us the 2 games we needed to get into the playoffs.

next time, hit the southside of bethlehem and grab some cheap beers at tally-ho with all the lehigh kids.

just remember though that abreau's 2 run homer in the 3rd inning gave them that lead.

I believe that every time you change pitchers you are rolling the dice that they will be ineffective no matter how good they are. So it makes more sense to me for a team to concentrate on getting starters that can go deep than on getting numerous arms in the bullpen that you can switch all the time.
That is why I like some of the so-called 'average' starters out there that eat lots of innings (220+). They have real value.
Let's take Jeff Weaver, a guy not highly regarded by many.
The last 2 seasons he was about a .500 pitcher (27-24 total). But he started 34 games each season, and pitched over 220 innings each season. He averaged 6.5 IP/start. Now he might have been only around .500, but you can bet that the rest of the staff benefitted from the fact that he didn't wear out their bullpen. Some of the teams' best relievers were usually available for the other starters. (Last year Derek Lowe also threw over 220 innings for LA).
Now take our old friend Vicente Padilla. Last year he averaged only 5.4 IP/start. In the course of a season he is adding about 40 IP to the bullpen over Jeff Weaver if they both start 34 games. That dilutes the effectiveness of the pen and hurts all of the starters. It might make the difference between carrying 11 pitchers and 12 pitchers, affecting your bench.
The starter in the rotation that follows Weaver is going to have a much better chance at being effectively relieved than the starter who follows Padilla because Padilla requires more pitchers (2-3) to finish his games.

That is why I always ask about the 'inning eaters' like Javier Vazquez, Doug Davis, Lowe, Weaver and a few others. You cannot judge them only by their individual stats. They have a positive impact on the performance of the pen and by extension, the other starters. They also obviously do not get hurt much, which prevents the team from giving a lot of starts to the #6 and #7 starter, adding even more relief innings. Knuckleball pitchers are also valuable for that reason..they can pitch a ton of innings (Wakefield averaged almost 7 IP/start).

That's another reason to get excited about acquiring guys like Barry Zito.

I think I agree more with the value of "inning eaters" than relievers that appear in a lot of games. George S. makes a good argument for their value to the team. It is something I had not thought about before, but will start paying more attention to. Thanks for the thought provoking discussion.

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