Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Bullpen smullpen

Dejan Kovacevic reports not a lot of worry about the 2008 bullpen.

I'm of the opinion that you line up five or seven guys who could start right away. Put four on the big-league club. The rest go to Indy, take turns, and wait. Then you get six to eight guys who may not have the repertoire or health to start. You put a few of these guys on the club as long relievers, and you put a few guys on the club as set-up men or late-inning people. The one-to-three out specialists become your closers. The manager more or less rides the hot hand until some performance-determined hierarchy emerges. Some schmucks have all the luck; some studs have all the pain. There's no predicting that the Pirates cannot get good late-inning performance from some one to three of Burnett, JVB, Bullington, Osoria, Bayliss, Romulo!, Perez, Taubenheim, Barthmaier, and Dumatrait.

So if I ran the circus, I'd trade Grabow and Marte for position-player prospects. The young starters might whine about there being "no one" to preserve their Ws. To that kind of whining, I would scowl. I would remind them that they could get more outs from their 110 pitches. They have to become more efficient if they want to get better anyway.

The distinguished closer and set-up ranks are full of one-pitch bulldogs and failed or fragile starters. The current roster of no-name pitchers may not inspire confident bullpen construction, but if you give these guys the opportunity, I would trust that a few of them will turn in solid work.

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