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Building a Bullpen, 2019 edition

Discussion in 'Red Sox Forum' started by Danny_Darwin, Oct 30, 2018.

  1. maufman

    maufman Anderson Cooper x Mr. Rogers Staff Member Dope Gold Supporter

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    23,845
    Stop it. Both of you.
     
  2. Pozo the Clown

    Pozo the Clown lurker

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    649
    Cora (per the article linked below) had this to say regarding the bullpen:
    “One thing for sure,” Cora said. “We do feel that there are certain guys that, they have to take a step forward.”

    https://theathletic.com/774182/2019...r-red-sox-project-confidence-in-bullpen-plan/


    DD (per the article linked below):
    "Well, I'd love to [avoid the penalty]," Dombrowski said. "I mean, we don't have any mandate to do that, but again, it really hasn't changed. There is a reason why they call it a penalty, and the higher you go, the penalty is quite significant. Ideally we'd like to stay there, but that was really our goal last year before the season started, and we did end up going over."

    “Sometimes you have to evaluate where you’re going to spend your dollars,” he said. “We decided to keep back the rest of the core of the club.”

    https://www.mlb.com/news/red-sox-stay-confident-after-yankees-moves/c-302847068
     
  3. Plympton91

    Plympton91 bubble burster SoSH Member

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    That’s.... not a promising statement from Cora or DD. As mentioned above, the offense and the starters will hopefully be handing over a lot of 8-1 leads after 7.

    To counter hyperbolic arguments denouncing perceived hyperbole, here’s straight up, impartial, unbiased, data analysis: ZiPs projections for the 2019 Red Sox bullpen:

    https://blogs.fangraphs.com/2019-zips-projections-boston-red-sox/

    There’s 1, Uno, one, in the whole system, projected to have an ERA below 3.50, Carson Smith, an injured NRI, and that’s accounted for by him being project to throw all of 30 innings.

    There’s 4 more, Barnes, Brasier, Brewer, and Hembree, projected to have an ERA between 3.50 and 3.90. Note: According to objective analysis, both Barnes and Brasier are closer in quality to Hembree than Kimbrel (or even to a healthy Carson Smith). Yet, subjective assessments on here include lots of folks thinking they're reliable options for relief ace, while Hembree is a bubble candidate.

    No one else in the entire system is projected to have an ERA below 4.30. Think about that.

    Among the most commonly invoked potential “step up” candidates, Tyler Thornburg’s projection is 4.86, roughly equal to Justin Haley and Dedgar Jimenez. Steven Wright is 4.56.
     
  4. bosox79

    bosox79 Member SoSH Member

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    Yeah, every year there are tons of pitchers who come out of nowhere and have very good to elite seasons in the bullpen. The Sox even traded for 2 of them in Carson Smith and Tyler Thornsburg. That didn't work out so well. There is just so much variance in relief pitching I don't think it is worth paying money for. They need to do a better job developing bullpen arms... or really just pitchers all together.

    Next year, the board will want to sign a reliever or two from a group of 5-6 pitchers that none of us want right now. This year, we look forward to Lakins, Feltman and Darwinzon to possibly contribute and it will end up being a lesser known like Jake Cosart who has a big time arm but 0 control. He made some serious progress this year that is masked by a bad start, bad luck, and last year's good luck.

    Cosart 2018
    First 13 appearances: 8.49 era, 23.1 ip, 11bb/27k, 6 HRA. .297/.366/.594, .353 BAbip. 24.1% K rate/9.8% BB rate
    Last 24 appearances: 2.87 era, 37.2 ip, 13bb/50k, 0 HRA. .247/.311/.317, .365 BAbip. 30.9% K rate/8.0% BB rate

    and only AA
    First 11 appearances: 8.41 era, 20.1 ip, 9bb/24k, 6 HRA. .279/.347/.570, .321 BAbip. 25.3% K rate/9.5% BB rate
    Demoted to A. Called back up 2 months later
    Last 8 appearances: 2.81 era, 16.0 ip, 6bb/21k, 0 HRA. .259/.324/.293, .375 BAbip, 30.1% K rate/8.8% BB rate

    2017: 3.10 era, 38 g, 49.1 ip, 41bb/52k, 5 HRA. .163/.335/.291, .195 BAbip. 23.4% K rate/18.5% BB rate

    2016: 1.78 era, 37 g, 70.2 ip, 36bb/104k, 2 HRA. .172/.280/.260, .283 BAbip. 35.9% K rate/12.4% BB rate

    I'm not saying it will be Cosart specifically, just that there are a lot of pitchers on the farm with potential to be good or even great bullpen arms.
     
  5. moondog80

    moondog80 heart is two sizes two small SoSH Member

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    I'd like the bullpen to be better, but it sounds like the situation is what it is. They had a relatively small amount to spend this offseason, and decided it was best to use most of it on Eovaldi. I'm not sure I would have gone that route, but they know a lot more about Eovladi than I do.

    That said, if you set the over/under on # of Sox relievers with 30 IP and an ERA below 3.50 at 1.5, I'm going heavy on the over. Much easier to manufacture a reliever than a starter.
     
  6. bosox79

    bosox79 Member SoSH Member

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    The jury is out on Brasier but Barnes is far closer to Kimbrel than he is Heath Hembree. You are seriously underrating him. He was arguably better than Kimbrel this year when you factor in luck.

    edit: This year's Kimbrel anyway. I tend to think 2017 was an outlier hiding decline.
     
  7. EricFeczko

    EricFeczko Member SoSH Member

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    2,793
    I think the issue is more about the 2020/21 rebuild than money. I suspect DD doesn't want to hand out multi-year reliever contracts since that would limit payroll flexibility when we need to rebuild, pay AB in arbitration, and potentially sign Xander/Betts/Bradley. If we're under the cap in 2020/21, we can spend again to compete in 22/23.

    I guess I could see chavis being dangled for a reliever (especially if he continues to bounce back @AAA from his suspension). However, some of that probably depends on whether/when JDM opts out of his contract.
     
  8. bosox79

    bosox79 Member SoSH Member

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    Sample sizes are so small for bullpen arms. Barnes gave up 4 runs on .1 ip on 8/28 and another 3 runs on .1 ip on 9/26. Remove those 2 games and his era goes from 3.65 to 2.66. His FIP was 2.71 and his xFIP was 2.83. Kimbrel's FIP and xFIP were both 3.13.

    Using only ERA to judge bullpen arms is so 1985. A couple bad outings can ruin a season.
     
  9. Pozo the Clown

    Pozo the Clown lurker

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    There's this quote from Cora (per the Athletic article I linked earlier):
    “Actually, today we had a meeting, very eye-opening with our analytical department,” manager Alex Cora said. “A lot of stuff we’re going to implement next year..."

    I'd love to know more about what they're planning on implementing. "Better Bullpenning by Analytics" coming soon to a bullpen near you!
     
  10. bosox79

    bosox79 Member SoSH Member

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    9,288
    If the playoffs were any indication, it's "Don't be afraid to walk the batter, just don't give him anything to hit." I hope it isn't for the sake of my health.
     
  11. moondog80

    moondog80 heart is two sizes two small SoSH Member

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    I chose 3.50 and 30 IP as a proxy for "effective reliever" because that was the standard P91 set in his example. Choose a different one if you like, I'm betting the Sox end up with at least two good ones.
     
  12. Savin Hillbilly

    Savin Hillbilly loves the secret sauce SoSH Member

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    According to one objective analysis, that is. Steamer projects Kimbrel for a 2.80 ERA, Barnes for a 3.27, and Hembree for a 4.05. So, "according to objective analysis," Barnes is almost twice as close to Kimbrel in quality than he is to Hembree.

    Also, since projections incorporate the recent past but can't (of course) incorporate the near future, they are likely to be misleading when a pitcher's performance arc is on a definite trend in one direction or the other, rather than stable. A declining pitcher will tend to underperform his projections for a few years, until the projections catch up to the trend. A pitcher still on the upswing will tend to outperform his projections until he's a few years into his prime. (At least, that's how I understand it -- I welcome correction from those with a better geek game.)

    Barnes was actually a better pitcher than Kimbrel last year by FIP (2.71 to 3.13) and xFIP (2.83 to 3.13), and virtually identical by SIERA (.278 to .271) and xwOBA (.264 to .266). He was significantly worse by ERA, true, but then, closers get to clean up their own messes more often than setup guys do, so ERA seems particularly likely to be misleading when comparing two guys with those roles.

    OTOH, Barnes was a much worse pitcher than Kimbrel in 2017 and 2016. And the projections, because they take this into account, will tend to show the relation between the two regressing toward its past state. This is, all other things being equal, a reasonable result. But if all other things aren't equal -- if the developments that made Barnes about as good a pitcher as Kimbrel last year represent genuine trends in each guy's career arc--then the projections need to be taken with a grain of salt (or a larger grain of salt than usual).
     
  13. bosox79

    bosox79 Member SoSH Member

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    Yeah, they had 4 in 2018 and Wright just missed the cut at 29.2 IP. I was mostly disagreeing with P91's proxy of an "effective reliever."

    The 4 who qualify are Kimbrel, Workman, Velazquez and Brasier. An elite arm, a guy who was in Japan, a guy who was in Mexico, and a guy who is a product of the farm.

    I guess he'd argue that Workman and Velazquez are better than Barnes and Joe Kelly.
     
  14. Adrian's Dome

    Adrian's Dome Member SoSH Member

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    And what do these "projections" mean?

    Precisely jack shit.
     
  15. Danny_Darwin

    Danny_Darwin Member SoSH Member

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    It says a lot about the state of baseball in 2019 that the Yankees acquisition that set off a bunch of people here was not Bryce Harper or Manny Machado but Adam Ottavino. People were less upset when they traded for Stanton.*


    * - Please don't try to refute this as though it were a totally serious remark
     
  16. bosox79

    bosox79 Member SoSH Member

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    Probably even less with relievers.
     
  17. Adrian's Dome

    Adrian's Dome Member SoSH Member

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    Citing actual ERA doesn't tell the story of a reliever's performance whatsoever, but let's double down and cite projected ERA, that's a surefire way to justify the kvetching and overreactions.

    Frankly, it comes down to this: is the Red Sox's bullpen stacked by any reasonable definition? No. Can it be bolstered? Yes. Should it? Probably. Is it a raging tire fire that'll most definitely cost us the division? Not even close.
     
  18. BaseballJones

    BaseballJones goalpost mover SoSH Member

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    4,299
    “Most definitely”? That seems like an extreme way to put it. But it’s not at all silly to think that if the bullpen stayed as is that that could cost the Sox enough games to miss out on first place.
     
  19. Adrian's Dome

    Adrian's Dome Member SoSH Member

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    4,282
    In January?

    Yes, it is.
     
  20. Plympton91

    Plympton91 bubble burster SoSH Member

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    He’s not interested in having a serious discussion. He wants to wishcast, not forecast.
     
  21. Plympton91

    Plympton91 bubble burster SoSH Member

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    The only person being “set off” is Adrian’s Dome, who can’t stomach anyone unless they’re waving pompoms and drinking kool-aid.

    By any objective measure the Red Sox bullpen projects terribly, they don’t have a single pitching prospect ranked in the top 100, and the GM is publicly downplaying expectations of outside help. But don’t worry! Nothing to see here.
     
    #671 Plympton91, Jan 18, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2019
  22. Plympton91

    Plympton91 bubble burster SoSH Member

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    It isn’t a standard I’m setting. It was just a break point in the ZiPS projections for Sox relievers. Smith at 3.00, Barnes at 3.54, the immortal, surefire, lockdown setup guy, Ryan Brasier at 3.78, and Heath Hembree at 3.84. Then it jumps to Brandon Workman at 4:30.

    Of course, they’ve got last year’s 4th round pick, who’s very likely to be a back end of the bullpen stopper by August, and it’s just a coincidence that 29 other teams didn’t draft him over the 120 or so picks before the Red Sox got around to it.

    If I was setting a standard for a quality reliever based on ZIPs projections it’d be much lower, maybe 2.75.
     
  23. Plympton91

    Plympton91 bubble burster SoSH Member

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    I’m not rating anything. Under or over. I’m reporting unbiased, non emotional projections. Brasier is a 30 year old journeyman who has 30 successful major league innings under him. ZiPS is looking at the history of players with that profile and giving you a reasonable expection through a clear lens of statistical probability.

    I’m confident the Red Sox understand the risk they’re taking, even if posters here can’t admit it exists. The plan seems to be to hand the pen a lot of 7-2 ballgames, and plan on winning them 8-5. Maybe that’s the risk you have to assume when you’re spending $90 million on your rotation and your previous GM has you still paying $30 million in dead contracts.
     
    #673 Plympton91, Jan 18, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2019
  24. BaseballJones

    BaseballJones goalpost mover SoSH Member

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    "IF THE BULLPEN STAYED AS IS". Perhaps you missed that part.

    I, personally, don't think it's going to stay as is. and a handful of posts ago I even gave a list of available guys who could still provide some good use to the pen probably for not much money. None of them are sexy. None are spectacular. But each has legitimate potential to help.

    That said, compared to last year, the bullpen is in pretty rough shape. Losing Kelly and Kimbrel (though of course Kimbrel might yet return) without replacing them is a huge, huge loss.
     
  25. bosox79

    bosox79 Member SoSH Member

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    You said Barnes, not Brasier.
     
  26. In my lifetime

    In my lifetime Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Without a doubt, the bullpen will look very different in September then it looks today. I do think it is likely the next addition to the pen comes via trading a catcher for a reasonably priced 7th or 8th inning reliever. At this point, I doubt they will spend what it will take to bring Kimbrel back. Then I would expect at least one more reliever to be added during the season. I think with the many significant expenditures needed over the next 2 years to keep as much as the core as possible, it is the correct decision not to spend big right now on a 3 year contract for a reliever.

    The path to a deeper bullpen in the playoffs has already been established. So make a trade now, pick up a rental during the season and then do damage again.
     
  27. Buzzkill Pauley

    Buzzkill Pauley Member SoSH Member

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    What’s interesting is that I took away precisely the opposite conclusion from your opening.

    The bullpen WILL look very different in September. Two assumptions are that are generally held to be true is that relievers are more volatile than starters in terms of performance, and that every pitcher is an injury risk.

    So why not save some long money for locking up future stars like Bogaerts and Betts, see who from among the current crew of MLB and MiLB staff is pitching effectively in the upcoming season, and keep back some funds AND prospects under the next tax hit threshold to pick up an effective relief ace or two from some bad team during the season?

    [edit: to clarify I don’t think making a trade now is a good idea, but to do all the relief corps improvements in-season.]
     
    #677 Buzzkill Pauley, Jan 19, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2019
  28. In my lifetime

    In my lifetime Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    I guess my post was certainly not very well written nor clear, since to a great extent your post summarizes my position. I didn't touch on locking up future stars (but I certainly don't disagree with that point), but I completely agree with picking up a relief ace during the season in addition to trading for a useful bullpen part now from the RS position of excess (catcher).
     
  29. bosockboy

    bosockboy Member SoSH Member

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    I think it seems clear DD is going to pick from the best relievers who will sign a one year deal. Its almost impossible we don’t go over the 246 in some form or another, but wants to keep the decks clear for 2020. If Kimbrel decides on 1/18 I think DD will take him.
     
  30. DeadlySplitter

    DeadlySplitter Member SoSH Member

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  31. Adrian's Dome

    Adrian's Dome Member SoSH Member

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    Except for the fact my initial take on the scenario (the Sox are looking to stockpile high-upside arms) is, you know, correct, and yours is nothing but kvetching and reactionary garbage with a side of uselessness (PROJECTED RELIEVER ERA!) tossed in.
     
  32. Papelbon's Poutine

    Papelbon's Poutine Homeland Security SoSH Member

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    17,205
    Bring on the Darwinzon Hernandez indoctrination.
     
  33. Savin Hillbilly

    Savin Hillbilly loves the secret sauce SoSH Member

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    I'm trying to figure out who could possibly be available at $2-3M who would be a palpable improvement over the guys they're already looking at.

    If this is for real, it's the best evidence we've seen so far that they're thinking in terms of early stopgaps and midyear callups of the kids.
     
  34. bosockboy

    bosockboy Member SoSH Member

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    My guess at that price range is Madson.
     
  35. Plympton91

    Plympton91 bubble burster SoSH Member

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    You are underestimating how bad the Red Sox situation is, as well as how bad the situation is faced by remaining free agents for which there is excess supply. I imagine a great many are falling into that range. This is what Dombrowski predicted 6 weeks ago, time for him to capitalize.

    Sipp would be a nice safe and needed addition. Shawn Kelley has been very effective in 3 of the past 4 seasons, including down the stretch with Oakland last gear.

    Or they could go for some actual high upside guys, like Boxburger or Diekman, who one could at least dream of having the top notch seasons buried in their past.

    I’d like to see them try to get Bruce Rondon on a minor league deal and see if they can make something of him with their newfangled pitching programs. Tons of stuff. Hasnt harnessed it except for a Brasier-like 36 innings in 2016. But still only 27. If you can get him to Pawtucket, that would maybe be another actual high upside signing.
     
    #685 Plympton91, Jan 19, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2019
  36. chawson

    chawson Well-Known Member Bronze Supporter

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    They’re different ages, but I’m not sure where you’re seeing a qualitative distinction between Diekman and Sipp. Either would be ok by me.

    Boxberger on the other hand seems like a long shot to be useful to us. His fastball’s lost considerable velocity since that top notch season and he no longer throws a slider. I’d have a hard time seeing DD believe a predominantly fastball/change guy with career reverse splits would be a better fit than say, Workman, especially with the Yanks rocking seven or eight RHH in their lineup.
     
  37. Plympton91

    Plympton91 bubble burster SoSH Member

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    Reduced stuff or not,Box had a much higher K rate last year than anybody the Sox are trotting out there right now, and he was still on in the AL East fairly recently.

    Sipp’s is more of a sure thing than Diekman, that means he’ll probably cost more.
     
  38. Plympton91

    Plympton91 bubble burster SoSH Member

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    You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    They do not have high upside arms. They have a lot of low ceiling, high floor arms. A bunch of guys great for the role of 11th men in the pen.
     
  39. Bob Montgomery's Helmet Hat

    Bob Montgomery's Helmet Hat has big, douchey shoulders Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    30,873
    Jake Diekman is not good. He walks 5 per 9, always has. I'll gladly take my chances with Zach Putnam over a Diekman.
     
  40. Savin Hillbilly

    Savin Hillbilly loves the secret sauce SoSH Member

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    Why is Sipp "safe" when he was terrible in 2016 and 2017? I'm not saying he isn't a viable candidate, but I don't really see why he's more of a sure bet than others in his general tier.

    He's intriguing, because he's been very good at times. But two things turn me off: the durability factor (just 75 innings over the past two years, and never as much as 60 in a season), and the extreme flyball factor.

    As with Sipp being "safe", I'm curious why you see these two in particular as "high upside". I can kind of see it with Diekman because he throws hard, but I'm a little mystified with Boxberger. He's been in MLB quite a while, has been losing FB velocity for four straight years, and has been mostly mediocre.
     
    #690 Savin Hillbilly, Jan 19, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2019
  41. Savin Hillbilly

    Savin Hillbilly loves the secret sauce SoSH Member

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    17,893
    His K rate was essentially identical to Hembree's and significantly lower than Barnes'. And his walk rate was higher than either.
     
  42. Plympton91

    Plympton91 bubble burster SoSH Member

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    Yes, I was excluding Barnes from the discussion but didn’t make that clear with what I wrote. He’s the bright light in the bullpen. No argument about his quality. He’s going to be the relief ace unless they’re lying about their willingness to bring Kimbrel back.

    And yeah, Boxburger has warts and the velocity drop may be concerning. I get that you want no part of him. Ok. So, here’s the bad news. His BRef projection is almost identical to that of Heath Hembree. Heath Hembree is currently somewhere between 2nd and 4th on the Red Sox bullpen depth chart. And he’s only projected to be marginally better than Boxburger, who you don’t want at all. See my point now?

    Sipp had a couple bad years. That’s what you get if you’re only willing to spend $3 million. At least he had some very good years to balance them, unlike most of the Red Sox current options
     
  43. Savin Hillbilly

    Savin Hillbilly loves the secret sauce SoSH Member

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    It's not that I don't want Boxberger at all, so much as that I don't see him as a meaningful addition. If we can have him for what Hembree is projected to make ($1.2M), OK. Depth is good. But it doesn't seem like a significant improvement. Who does he push off the 25-man, and is he really better than that guy? It's at best a marginal move. Certainly not a "high-upside" move, which is what you called it.

    OK, but I was objecting to you calling him "safe".

    I mean, you like to harp on how mediocre Hembree is, and I'm certainly not the president of his fan club either. But Hembree's worst year in the major leagues, 2015, was not as bad as Sipp's 2016, and not appreciably worse than Sipp's 2017. Their career rate numbers are mostly very close to identical. Really, the most salient difference between them is that Sipp will cost more.
     
    #693 Savin Hillbilly, Jan 20, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2019
  44. bosockboy

    bosockboy Member SoSH Member

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  45. chawson

    chawson Well-Known Member Bronze Supporter

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    Especially since those reports that the Sox pitching coaches are looking to develop and maximize guys’ pitch mix potential, I’m holding some faint hope DD can get something done with the Diamondbacks for Archie Bradley. He throws 96-97 with great secondaries, and might have an even higher ceiling if he reintroduces his cutter, which apparently Torrey Lovullo would rather he not throw. He also seems like a fun player.

    Slightly different repertoire, but that sounds pretty similar to another guy DD traded for recently.
     
  46. rajendra82

    rajendra82 Member SoSH Member

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  47. chawson

    chawson Well-Known Member Bronze Supporter

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    The Diamondbacks just DFA'd an intriguing pitcher in Jared Miller, a 6'7" LHP prospect who dominated the Arizona system until mysteriously contracting Steve Blass disease in 2018. He's drawn comparisons to Andrew Miller and reportedly learned his cutter from fellow Vanderbilt alum David Price.
     
  48. uncannymanny

    uncannymanny Well-Known Member Gold Supporter SoSH Member

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    I would love to see Kelley. Bradley would be a nice upside add.
     
  49. jon abbey

    jon abbey Shanghai Warrior Dope SoSH Member

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    This seems potentially relevant:

    Jeff Passan Verified account 16m16 minutes ago

    Over the next few days, there are going to be a handful of relief-pitcher signings as teams comb the one-year market, league sources tell ESPN. One name generating a lot of interest, according to team officials: Ryan Madson. Another to keep an eye on: Brad Brach.
     
  50. Pozo the Clown

    Pozo the Clown lurker

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    649
    Undoubtedly, Madson and Brach will be signed. God-willing, it won't be by the Red Sox.
     

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