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Thursday, October 26, 2006

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I'm all for taking more risks, although one "safe" BP arm would be nice. I think there is something to say for knowing what you're going to get

JW - is your opinion that Segovia doesn't have a future as a starter? If he does, I'd rather have him on the farm, maturing, than wasting away in the pen.

My growing belief is that if a pitcher can help the team in a certain capacity, use him. I think the idea that starting prospects cannot cross the line to reliever, then cross back is very overrated. If Segovia looks like he can help the pen, go for it, rather than have him pitch to Randall Simon types in AAA. I have a growing belief that level of the minors is a waste of time for pitchers frankly.

I've always thought that AAA was really just a springboard where major league ready pitchers stayed fresh till the big club needed them.

I don't know how I feel about throwing every good pitcher into the bullpen, but I think there are tradeoffs either way. If Segovia was a junkballer like Haigwood, I'd definitely be with you.

I agree wholeheartedly that Segovia would be better served pitching out of the pen in Philly than getting a full year starting in Ottawa next season. Even if the Phils think his long-term future is as a starter (something I'm not convinced of after seeing him in person a bunch of times), I still see using him out of the pen in the majors initially as the best course of action.

The bullpen is the best spot on a team to take risks and I'd love the Phillies to do this by deciding on which of the players already on the 40-man roster (Brito, Castro, Condrey,Germano, Hernandez, Segovia, and Sanches) are capable of helping the pen in '07.

By the way, good article as always, Jason.

To me bullpens are a big crapshoot. This year's pen had some success and some failures. Of all the hot action this spring of competition to earn jobs, the bullpen will be the place. I envision a lot of players vying for the big club.

Some of these guys could be trade fodder, most likely Madson. Of course, if traded, Madson will mature overnight and become a star.

Another player I grew to like, although he's in the old guy category was Rick White. I can see him back next year.

I agree that the Phils should and will put Smith in their pen. I think Madson is virtually assured of a spot, whether he's earned it or not. If Fultz comes back I hope it's as a lefty specialist and not in a role anything like he had last year. Even if they bring Fultz back I assume they're going to go with the eighth-inning closer thing again, which will mean they will need someone who can get out both righties and lefties. Other than Gordon they don't have that now even if they had Geary, Smith, Fultz and Madson. The most important thing may be that they get more than three or four guys that Manuel is willing to let pitch -- some of those games near the end of the year were just brutal when it seemed like it was Geary and Fultz every day.

Relief pitchers are very unpredictable except for the elite. And the elite are normally closers or over-priced setup men (i.e. Mike Timlin who just signed a 2.8 mil deal yesterday with BoSox, or Kyle Farnsworth who makes closer money to pitch irratically for NYY). My point is take risks just like JW said. But those risks need to be inexpensive, because if they don't work out then cast them aside and move on to the next guy.

Franklin was a dud last season and cost over 2 mil. We would have been better going with someone from the farm system or a minor league free agent. I'm all for signing a butt-load of minor league free agents and have the fight it out for slots in the pen. The losers go to the minors and wait for someone to get injuried or flame-out.

We have a cast of possible bullpenners, people listed them above.

Bringing in some more guys into the mix will only be a good thing.

Gillick is on record saying that he prefers a younger starting staff and a veteran bullpen. This certainly fits with what he has did last year (Gordon, Rhodes, Santana, RWhite, Franklin). I would also like to see some aggressive moves.
Again, look at the Mets who completely revamped their bullpen in 2006. They signed Wagner, Bradford, and Darren Oliver. They also traded for Seo for Duaner Sanchez , and Benson for Julio. Not all of these moves worked out, but they certainly were not safe moves and the bullpen went from a weakness to a strength. To do it, they made some gutsy moves like trading areas of perceived weakness like starting pitching (Benson & Seo) for bullpen help. They knew with an aging staff, they needed players who could help bridge the gap from the starter to Wagner. I think Phils need to make the same type of moves. This may involving trading guys like Madson and Lieber and/or looking for starters in other organizations that can be effective relievers.

Drama Queen's got this one right: the bullpen is a crapshoot, and it's an idiot's game to pay millions of dollars to relievers whose performance varies so wildly from one season to the next. A look at Rheal Cormier's seasonal ERAs as a Phillie illustrates this pretty vividly: 4.21, 5.25, 1.70, 3.56, 5.89, 1.59 (pre-trade). What didn't change is that he made upwards of $2 million in each of those seasons.

The very best relievers--Wagner, Rivera, Hoffman--deliver year after year. Just about everyone else is a question, though gradations of talent and injury history can lead a GM to some defensible conclusions. (You can strongly suspect Tom Gordon is a better pitcher than, say, Ryan Franklin.) But the fact that Geoff Geary so thoroughly outpitched Arthur Rhodes should tell you all you need to know about the dubious value of "veteran relievers."

As Jason notes, the way to go here is to take 10-12 guys from your organization, sign a few more NRI vets of questionable health but demonstrated talent, and let them battle it out in February and March.

Excellent points, dajafi, as usual. You need to stop by a little more.

I could see Gillick signing a top reliever to push Gordon as closer or be that setup man.

Have no fear, there will be plenty of relief pitchers available this offseason. There is a lack of quality starters on the market, and besides a few elite positional players, the market is bare. But there's ALWAYS relief pitchers...bring in on the cheap!

One thing that has been hasn't been talked about though is how Jimy Williams will potentially cause Chuckles to use his bullpen next season and the effect this might have.

Williams has always been quick to pull his starters and heavily utilize his bullpen. Also, Williams is willing to play hunches in his matchups. This means that Williams might go with some nonconventional matchups (lefty vs. righty) and stay with a hot-hand.

What does this mean for the bullpen next season?
1. I am willing to bet that Geary and Gordon will each see at least one or more extended trips to the DL next season.
2. The long relievers on this team will play an incredibly important role on this team next year and that forces Madson and company to really pick it up.
3. Gillick better do a much better job of stockpiling some arms this offseason since this bullpen is going to get alot of calls next season even if the starters are much better.

One thing's for sure: Gillick has to do more than just guess the way he did last year when attempting to put together a bullpen. Other than Rowand and Gordon, his acquisitions last off-season were so piss-poor that I'm still gunshy about trusting him as an evaluator of talent. Guys like Santana, Rodriguez, and Booker were supposed to provide 'depth' and 'insurance'; he might as well have signed three juggling clowns for all the good they did the Phillies.

Risks and luck are sometimes part of the equation, but dajafi's point about how the Mets rebuilt their pen is a good one. There are good risks and there are bad risks. To me, Rhodes seemed like a good risk at the time; there was nothing to indicate he would fall on his face quite the way he did. But if the Phils were unlucky with him, the luck was evened out by Geary's breakthrough. I won't agree that Gillick got one-upped by Brian Cashman in July, but he sure as hell got one-upped by Omar Minaya in the last calendar year, budget or no budget.

The bullpen always seems like a huge area of concern for all clubs heading into spring training, and that indicates the crapshoot that it is. At least we know our closer, and a few spare parts. Now Gillick has to give ample resources for the coaching staff to fill the voids, and as a lot of us have been saying...it boils down to luck. Now there's calculated luck and dumb luck, I'd be happy getting both.

Good points on Williams, MG, although I don't think it'll be as bad as you think, considering Charlie's still there. One would hope that Charlie wouldn't be foolish enough to trust in the guy who would replace him if he's wrong.

But this is Cholly

The success of a bullpen is usually influenced by how long the starters can go.

I have a feeling that had the phils not put so many innings on some of those bullpen arms early in the season, maybe later in the season they would've been better. Hamels, Myers, Lieber, and Moyer all will go 6 or more innings 90% of the time. We didn't have that last year with Lieber, Myers, Lidle, Madson, Floyd, emphasis on the last 2. Wolf is a little of a wild card, and my hope is that we would be able to group him with the others after spring training.

Padres signed Scott Strickland yesterday in an example of the low-cost, fair risk bullpen signing.

next week is the ALS Association's charity golf tournament. let the annual Curt Schilling campaign begin.

For a little perspective:

Strickland (Career):
240IP 3.34ERA 1.30 WHIP

Rhodes (Since 1999 -Strickland's first year):
441.2IP 3.67ERA 1.23WHIP

Rhodes' Last 251.1IP:
3.65ERA 1.27WHIP

BP's a crapshoot. Always.

I wouldn't says always a crap shoot but probably the most difficult thing is to gauge a relivers performance from one season to the next. Very few consistent setup guys/closers in general.

The only thing I would disagree with about Rhodes is that he was pretty old and you have to be especially leary of relivers over 35. They can generally lose it at any time.

I like MG's idea of making Madson the long man. It's a low-pressure situation, plus if he's going well he can take a turn at bat, go 3 innings and save the rest of the bullpen. That would fit with Williams' early hook, too.

I don't think it is entirely a crapshoot. The pitching coach has something to do with whether those spring training "let's take a look at him" stints turn out well.

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