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Relievers Newsbeat

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Robothal: What a relief! A’s could use bullpen differently than other teams

The natural question, now that Jim Johnson has thrown five consecutive scoreless innings, is whether the $10 million reliever soon will return to the closer’s role.

Well, what if the Athletics refuse to entertain the notion?

What if they take a wrecking ball to traditional bullpen roles and use their best relievers in the highest-leverage situations, regardless of inning?

If ever there was a general manager who would be willing to defy baseball’s conventional wisdom, it’s Billy Beane.

And if ever there was a team deep enough in dominant relievers to attempt an unorthodox but potentially optimal usage pattern, it’™s the A’s.

I’m not saying it’s going to happen. I’m not saying it should happen. I’m just saying that it wouldn’t surprise me if the A’s declined to re-establish Johnson as their closer, alternating him with other relievers in the role instead. ...

To be sure, a one-inning closer who pitches mostly in save situations is not conducive to an optimal bullpen. On the other hand, the creation of an entirely new usage pattern would require not just a strong manager, but also strong-minded relievers.

Melvin might very well be that kind of manager. Gregerson, Doolittle and Johnson might very well be those kinds of relievers. Still, the concept works better in a vacuum. And teams don’t play in a vacuum, not in an age of multi-million-dollar relievers who crave predictability and managers who face immediate 140-character second-guessing after every blown save.

Would the competitive advantage gained from a non-traditional bullpen be worth the potential disruption to so many in uniform? That is a question that not even the most gifted sabermetrician could answer, unless he or she could get inside the head of every reliever and every manager. It would be easy if they all were robots. But they’re not.

Managers get second-guessed plenty as it is—by fans, by reporters and yes, by their GMs. If I were a manager, I’d strive to be less rigid with my bullpen than most. But that’s easy for me to say as I sit here musing at my laptop. It’s a lot more difficult sitting in a dugout, making heat-of-the-moment decisions.

Even free thinkers such as Joe Maddon seem to prefer traditional bullpen management; the Rays invent new closers almost every season, but they do not try to reinvent the role. The Athletics, to this point, have operated in similar fashion. And if they returned to a typical setup—say, Otero and lefty Fernando Abad in the sixth; Doolittle, Gregerson and Cook in the seventh and eighth; Johnson in the ninth—they almost certainly would be quite good (assuming, of course, that Johnson was pitching well enough to reclaim his job).

Indeed, the debate might be more fun in theory than meaningful in reality; Epstein once told Baseball Prospectus that optimal bullpen usage would create only a “small” competitive edge. The Athletics, to be sure, are in a commanding position no matter which approach they take. All of their relievers—even the long man, lefty Drew Pomeranz—are quite good.

JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: April 17, 2014 at 05:14 PM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: athletics, bullpens, relievers

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Neyer: Kissing the Rolaids Relief Award goodbye

In 2006…. the Rolaids brand was acquired… Johnson & Johnson drastically reduced its distribution of Rolaids-brand products, and the attendant promotion of those products… [Heath] Bell and Rafael Soriano, the winners in 2010, didn’t get their trophies. José Valverde and John Axford, the winners in 2011, didn’t get theirs, either…

The way the Players Association saw it, the Rolaids Relief Man Award was still being promoted on a corporate website in 2010 and ’11, so somebody owed four pitchers their trophies from those seasons….

Tuesday morning in Cleveland, Axford became the last known recipient of the Rolaids Relief Man Award…

While Jim Johnson did receive a bonus for finishing atop the (unofficial) Relief Man standings in 2012, neither he nor NL winner Craig Kimbrel received the hardware, nor are they likely to. The owners of the Rolaids brand didn’t maintain the Relief Man standings that year… Johnson told me last month, “I want my fireman’s helmet.”...

I agree with Jayson Stark: It’s time—actually well past time—for the BBWAA to introduce an award for relief pitchers. I wouldn’t call it the Jerome Holtzman Award, as Jayson would. It’s not a bad suggestion. I just think naming an award after a writer isn’t a great idea. I’ll suggest instead the Mariano Rivera Award for the American League, and the Trevor Hoffman Award for the National League…

POSTSCRIPT: Major League Baseball must have a spy somewhere. Before the above was published but after I submitted it, MLB announced two new awards for relief pitchers, named after ... Rivera and Hoffman.

The District Attorney Posted: April 13, 2014 at 12:52 PM | 15 comment(s)
  Beats: awards, history, relievers, rob neyer, rolaids relief award

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

MLB: Relief Awards named for Rivera, Hoffman

The American League’s top reliever will be given an award named for Mariano Rivera, and the National League winner will receive a trophy named for Trevor Hoffman. Rivera and Hoffman, Nos. 1 and 2 in career saves, spent their entire careers pitching in their respective leagues. . .

The new honors, beginning this season, will replace MLB’s Delivery Man of the Year Award, which was given to one reliever each year, as opposed to one reliever per league. . .

The award winners will be determined by a vote of other great relievers. Rivera and Hoffman will be joined by Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage and Bruce Sutter, who are the four living relievers in the Hall of Fame, and Lee Smith, John Franco and Billy Wagner, all of whom are among the top five in career saves.

The nine voters will rank the top three pitchers in each league based solely on regular-season performance, and each of their ballots will use a 5-3-1 weighted point system.

That’s an interesting way to pick an award.

The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: April 09, 2014 at 03:16 PM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: awards, hoffman, mariano rivera, relievers

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Marlins, Carlos Marmol agree to terms

The Marlins….is that still a thing?

The Marlins and veteran reliever Carlos Marmol have come to terms on a contract for 2014, reports CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. According to Heyman’s sources, the deal is a major-league contract.

Marmol, 31, is coming off a 2013 season in which he pitched to a 4.41 ERA, 87 ERA+ and 1.48 K/BB ratio in 49 innings for the Cubs and Dodgers. For his career, Marmol owns a 125 ERA+ across parts of eight major-league seasons. Marmol is still capable of effectiveness in spurts, but control has always been a concern. As well, his stuff has diminished in recent seasons, and he hasn’t had a standout year since 2010.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 06, 2014 at 11:19 PM | 3 comment(s)
  Beats: carlos marmol, free agents, marlins, relievers

Fernando Rodney agrees to sign with Mariners

Rodney can’t get no respect!

The Seattle Mariners have agreed to sign free agent closer Fernando Rodney to a two-year, $14 million deal, Jon Heyman has confirmed. The was first reported by Jonah Keri of Grantland.

Rodney, 36, was unbelievable for the Rays in 2012 when he closed 48 games in 50 chances with a 0.60 ERA (641 OPS+!). He took a step backward last season, though, when he went 37 for 45 in save chances with a 3.38 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 82 strikeouts in 66 2/3 innings. He was excellent in September, though, with a 0.82 ERA and 0.82 WHIP.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 06, 2014 at 11:17 PM | 14 comment(s)
  Beats: count da saves, fernando rodney, free agents, mariners, relievers

Friday, January 24, 2014

Rays bring in Grant Balfour

Grant Balfour, by Jim Bouton

Free-agent closer Grant Balfour reached agreement on a two-year, $12 million deal with the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday.

The Mets extended an identical offer to Balfour, a source told ESPNNewYork.com, but Balfour chose the Rays because he lives in the area.

Balfour, a 36-year-old Australia native, went 1-3 with a 2.59 ERA and 38 saves last season in Oakland and made the American League All-Star team. He pitched previously in Tampa Bay from 2007-10.

“We’ve had some exceptional teams,” Rays owner Stu Sternberg said. “We want to give this organization the best chance to win, and we know it’s going to cost us more than we can afford to pay.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 24, 2014 at 09:55 PM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: free agents, grant balfour, rays, relievers

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dodgers Re-Sign J.P. Howell

Howell the Dodgers spend their money this winter?

The Dodgers have not made any blockbuster moves this offseason, but the roster is slowly coming together as the calendar year comes to a close. J.P. Howell is the latest piece to fall in place as he was signed to a two-year deal on Monday night, according to Ken Gurnick.

The 30-year old lefty will be making $11.5 million over the next two seasons. If he totals 120 appearances in those two seasons, a mutual option worth $6.5 million will be available for 2016. Howell was one of the Dodgers most consistent options out of the bullpen in 2013, posting a 2.03 ERA in 62 innings along with 54 strikeouts and a 1.048 WHIP.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 18, 2013 at 11:58 PM | 2 comment(s)
  Beats: dodgers, free agents, j.p. howell, relievers

Padres, Joaquin Benoit agree to 2-year deal

Its all fun to you start seeing Benoit balls.

A person familiar with the situation says the San Diego Padres have agreed with former Detroit Tigers closer Joaquin Benoit on a $15.5 million, two-year contract.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the deal is pending on Benoit passing a physical.

In his first season as Tigers closer, Benoit had 24 saves in 26 chances. But in Game 2 of the AL championship series, he allowed a tying grand slam by Boston’s David Ortiz that was a turning point in the series.

Benoit, who turns 37 on July 26, is expected to replace setup man Luke Gregerson, who was traded to Oakland for outfielder Seth Smith.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 18, 2013 at 11:57 PM | 0 comment(s)
  Beats: free agents, joaquin benoit, padres, relievers

 

 

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