Thursday, April 17, 2014
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.
Sunday, April 13, 2014
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.
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
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.
Thursday, February 06, 2014
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.
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.
Friday, January 24, 2014
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.”
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
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.
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.
for his generous support.
You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.
: OTP April 2014: BurstNET Sued for Not Making Equipment Lease Payments
(1739 - 9:30am, Apr 20)Last:
: John Torres: Baseball must bag sickening farewell tours
(6 - 9:29am, Apr 20)
: Bryce Harper benched for 'lack of hustle' despite quad injury
(63 - 9:23am, Apr 20)
: Chase Utley is the hottest hitter in baseball and has a shot at .400
(63 - 9:05am, Apr 20)
Last: Cooper NielsonNewsblog
: OT: The Soccer Thread March, 2014
(939 - 9:03am, Apr 20)Last:
The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott)Newsblog
: Doug Glanville: I Was Racially Profiled in My Own Driveway
(368 - 8:23am, Apr 20)Last:
The Id of SugarBear BlanksNewsblog
: OT: The NHL is finally back thread, part 2
(154 - 7:47am, Apr 20)Last:
: Daniel Bryan's 'YES!' chant has spread to the Pirates' dugout
(99 - 7:06am, Apr 20)
Last: NJ in DC (Now unemployed!)Newsblog
: mets.com: Through hitting system, Mets aim to build winner
(9 - 1:43am, Apr 20)
: I Don’t Care If I Ever Get Back — And I Might Not
(4 - 1:21am, Apr 20)
Last: Joyful Calculus InstructorNewsblog
: RB: Carlos Beltran: more of a center fielder than Mickey Mantle, Ty Cobb or Duke Snider. So what?
(40 - 1:06am, Apr 20)
: A’s Jed Lowrie “flabbergasted” by Astros’ response to bunt
(13 - 12:53am, Apr 20)
: Pirates Acquire Ike Davis From Mets
(38 - 12:45am, Apr 20)
Last: Ray (RDP)Jim's Lab Notes
: We're Moved! (And Burst.net can bite me!)
(102 - 12:40am, Apr 20)Last:
: Baseball Researcher: Some Very Fortunate Footage
(4 - 12:28am, Apr 20)
Last: KT's Pot Arb