Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Finding relief

Phillies fans are already throwing in the towel because of the state of the team's bullpen. This led to a discussion with my brother about relievers.

Some of the fans and talking heads in Philly are blaming GM Pat Gillick for not buying help for the bullpen. I happen to agree with Gillick's philosophy of not giving long contracts or big deals to pitchers, particularly relievers, because they're so streaky. I opined that the best way to build a bullpen was from within, coupled with lucky low-risk pickups, like the Phils got with J.C. Romero last year.

After thinking about it a little more, I came to the conclusion that chasing help can be extremely difficult. Look at the Orioles last season, just as an example. Furthermore, the recently successful teams in the AL (which is where I limited my thought process being a Tigers' fan) pretty much all have relievers that pitched only for them during their careers.

Consider Mariano Rivera in New York, Jonathan Papelbon in Boston, Huston Street in Oakland, Francisco Rodriguez in Anaheim, Bobby Jenks in Chicago, J.J. Putz in Seattle.

Cleveland got 45 saves (and 5.07 ERA) from journeyman Joe Borowski last season, which bucks the trend to a degree, but the Tribes' key reliever Rafael Betancourt fits the profile. When the Tigers reached the World Series in 2006, it was with well-traveled Todd Jones as the closer, but Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya were the heart of the pen.

Minnesota's Joe Nathan came over in a trade from San Francisco, but he had only 1 save in four seasons by the Bay.

I'm not sure there is anything to this quick analysis, but it does seem to suggest it's worth consideration.

No comments: