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Building a Bullpen, 2019 edition

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

  1. Red(s)HawksFan

    Red(s)HawksFan Member SoSH Member

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    Worth pointing out again that JD Martinez signed on February 26, nearly two weeks into camp being open (Nunez also signed after camp opened). No reason at all to assume that just because a deal hasn't been done yet that no deal can be done. Late signings seem to be the new normal with the current CBA.
     
  2. Sandy Leon Trotsky

    Sandy Leon Trotsky Member SoSH Member

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    That’s true but DD had the payroll space for those signings. This year, no
     
  3. Van Everyman

    Van Everyman Member SoSH Member

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    P91, I don’t get the negativity here. They are loaded almost everywhere in their lineup except the bullpen. Most teams don’t invest crazy dollars in their bullpens and do fine. Would this consternation be going on had the Yankees not signed two of the premium relievers on the market (to significant dollars I would add) to go along with Chapman and Betances?

    Every team has a soft area – the Yankees’ is their rotation. Ours is the bullpen. Which (potential) problem would you rather have? Which is more fixable?
     
  4. In my lifetime

    In my lifetime Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    and which has been proven to be easily adjusted to in the playoffs?
     
  5. joe dokes

    joe dokes Member SoSH Member

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    There's a school of thought that if the bullpen blows a game on Opening Day, the psychological damage to the team will be such that the playoffs wont even happen. The ghosts of Chad Fox (costing the Sox a playoff spot in 2003), Joe Kelly and Carson Smith (doing the same to the 2018 squad) are the principals of this school.
     
  6. jon abbey

    jon abbey Shanghai Warrior Dope SoSH Member

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    Not to get off topic, but the NY rotation is probably in the top 5 in baseball right now. You could question the depth after the top 5, but if Paxton/Severino/Tanaka/Happ/CC is a 'soft area', that is one seriously loaded team. Fangraphs has them at #3 in MLB, CLE at #1, BOS at #2:

    https://www.fangraphs.com/depthcharts.aspx?position=SP
     
  7. Max Power

    Max Power thai good. you like shirt? SoSH Member

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  8. BaseballJones

    BaseballJones goalpost mover SoSH Member

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    Well to be fair....the Yankees ARE a seriously loaded team. They're gonna be a monster this year, assuming good health. Of all the areas on a team, between the Red Sox and Yankees, the Sox' bullpen is by far the weakest area. They may be able to get by as is, or with minor changes, but man, it doesn't look very good to me right now.
     
  9. DeadlySplitter

    DeadlySplitter Member SoSH Member

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    remember that a catcher is presumably getting traded at some point. I bet it's for another reliever or two, even if they're just more fliers.
     
  10. jon abbey

    jon abbey Shanghai Warrior Dope SoSH Member

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    Why do people think that? They carried those three guys all last season, why wouldn’t they do it again? Genuine question.
     
  11. Sam Ray Not

    Sam Ray Not Member SoSH Member

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    I think you could make a case that those last two are somewhat soft (beyond CC's waistine), just due to the fact they're turning 37 and 39 this year, respectively. Neither showed alarming signs of massive age-related decline last year, which probably contributes to the solid Fangraphs number, but at that age rapid decline can happen. At minimum durability can be a serious concern at that age, which comes into play if, as you say, depth beyond the front 5 is an issue. (Are you guys still high on Loaisiga?)

    I don't think anyone doubts that the NYY are seriously loaded, but I think most Yankees fans would allow that even with the Paxton addition, starting pitching remains a soft-ish area for them, relatively speaking (if probably less soft than defense).
     
  12. jon abbey

    jon abbey Shanghai Warrior Dope SoSH Member

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    Loaisiga is great if he can stay healthy, German is promising, and also I forgot Jordan Montgomery is supposed to be back mid-season. Mike King had insane minor league numbers last year (and a ton of innings), but even though he absolutely dominated AAA at the end of the year (a 1.15 ERA in 6 starts), people don't seem to think it will translate to big league success.
     
  13. Red(s)HawksFan

    Red(s)HawksFan Member SoSH Member

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    What team is trading for one of these catchers, and giving up a potentially useful arm to do so? And I know the answer to that is, there's always the chance of someone getting hurt and having a surprise need for a catcher before Opening Day, but there are still free agents available and no seeming rush to snap them up. Good chance a team in need of a catcher can grab a free agent for cash only rather than give up a prospect (even a lottery ticket type).
     
  14. SouthernBoSox

    SouthernBoSox Member SoSH Member

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    This is a great little article and really echo's the point that quantity is actually much more important than what I will call "perceived quality."

    It's absolutely a huge gamble. And looking at some of the deals I really wish they would have struck a few deals with some more experienced guys in the sub 4mm range but it's clear that's just not in the cards. They are going to throw as many arms at the wall as possible and see what happens. It's definitely not an uncalculated risk, it's clear there is a vision here. We'll see if it blows up in their face or not.
     
  15. joe dokes

    joe dokes Member SoSH Member

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    I took Speier's point to be "the bullpen has just as much chance to suck if you spend the money as if you don't." DD's hand may be forced, but if spending the money doesn't improve the chances, then why do it, other than to satisfy the critics who say that you didn't spend the money?
     
  16. Minneapolis Millers

    Minneapolis Millers Member SoSH Member

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    It would be interesting to see Speier's work done over time, and without reference to the arbitrary $5M salary cut-off. WAR/FA$ for relievers. Regarding his list, signing FA relievers looks like a poor bet, generally, given their performance volatility. Of course, many relievers end up as relievers not because of stuff, but because of the persistent inability to harness their stuff (see Kelly, J.); hence, the poor ROI. But it also looks like the best relative bet is to sign a guy or two with some proven ability at the MLB level to a major league deal (for less than $5M per year!). DD didn't sign anyone like that, right? And only Brewer is on the 40-man?
     
  17. Plympton91

    Plympton91 bubble burster SoSH Member

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    I was going to say something similar. The Yankees have a very good rotation. It would not surprise anyone if two of the three of Severino, Paxton, or Tanaka finished in the top 5 of Cy Young voting. And you can’t talk about durability issues give Sale’s now thrice repeated breakdowns in September and October.
     
  18. DeadlySplitter

    DeadlySplitter Member SoSH Member

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    Sergio Romo went to the Marlins of all teams for 1/2.5M. lol
     
  19. The Gray Eagle

    The Gray Eagle Member SoSH Member

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    Mass Live has a profile of big lefty bullpen hopeful Josh Taylor, who we acquired in a trade for Deven Marrero last year.
    Taylor's minor league numbers are nothing great, but he has topped out at 98 mph, and was added to the 40-man roster to avoid losing him in the Rule 5 draft. Someone to keep an eye on as the season goes on.

    They also have a profile of Travis Lakins, who seems more likely to pitch in the majors this year.

    "Red Sox prospect Travis Lakins dominated after transitioning from a starter to a reliever last May.
    He posted a 0.86 ERA (21 innings, two earned runs) and 0.71 WHIP in 20 relief outings for Double-A Portland. He then earned a promotion to Triple-A Pawtucket where he recorded a 1.65 ERA (16.1 innings, three earned runs) in 10 relief outings.
    The Red Sox added him to the 40-man roster in November. He’s here at big league spring training camp and he certainly can make this club’s Opening Day roster.
    Lakins said he’s very comfortable with multi-inning relief outings. He pitched more than one inning in 11 of his 30 relief outings, including eight times in his final nine appearances. He recorded six outs in four outings."
     
  20. Pozo the Clown

    Pozo the Clown lurker

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    Werner says it's "extremely unlikely" Sox will re-sign Kimbrel.
     
  21. Savin Hillbilly

    Savin Hillbilly loves the secret sauce SoSH Member

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    Somehow for me this increases the perceived likelihood a signing is imminent.
     
  22. Plympton91

    Plympton91 bubble burster SoSH Member

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    Yeah, I immediately heard Jim Carey in my head as well, “So, you’re saying there’s a CHANCE!”
     
  23. moondog80

    moondog80 heart is two sizes two small SoSH Member

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    Braves make too much sense with their 118 mil payroll. Unless the QO penalty is scaring them off at any cost? Maybe they wait until June 1 (or whatever it is) and then sign him?
     
  24. The Gray Eagle

    The Gray Eagle Member SoSH Member

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    Cora isn't ruling out the "closer by committee" approach to the late innings.
    The only way that can work is if you have a manager who is really good at matchups, and if the pitchers involved buy into it and can handle less defined roles.
    I think we have a manager who would be good at it, and the pitchers on this team seem likely to buy into it, especially since Cora was the boss who led them to a dominant season and postseason.
    Of course the first time a save was blown, the media would go crazy over how this concept is crazy and never works, blah blah blah.
     
  25. bosox79

    bosox79 Member SoSH Member

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    If there is no clear cut closer, is there anything to buy into? You'd think all the MRs would be on board if it meant getting a chance to close every now and then.

    Barnes may have a gripe.
     
  26. The Gray Eagle

    The Gray Eagle Member SoSH Member

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    It's more about them buying in to the whole concept of not having a defined role like they've been used to.

    Some guys like to have a general idea of which inning they will be coming into, so they can prepare and be as focused as possible when the call comes. (And to time their Red Bull and B-12 intake to peak at the right time.)

    If you know you are the 8th inning guy in close games, you can mentally focus when it looks like you might be needed that day. If you need to be ready to come in at any point between the 5th and the 9th, that could make it harder for you to stay intensely focused the same way you always have.

    And then there are potential new issues that may need to be addressed, like If pitcher A comes in to a one-run game and strikes out the side, he needs to not get pissed and distracted when someone else gets the next save opportunity and he doesn't, and he is instead called in to a jam in the 6th inning.
     
  27. canyoubelieveit

    canyoubelieveit Member SoSH Member

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    On paper (but less so in reality) I could see this team actually being a pretty good choice for experimenting with the "opener" approach. With three high quality lefties in the starting rotation but potentially thin on high quality middle relievers, a righty opener could start a game against a line-up designed for one of our lefty starters, then the starter could go an inning later into the game than he would have otherwise...

    In reality, I don't imagine Sale or Price loving the idea of not getting the ball to start their games, but who knows. If ERod continues to have some troubles getting deep into games because of pitch counts, he might be a candidate from time to time.
     
  28. bosox79

    bosox79 Member SoSH Member

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    How often are MRs who aren't closers limited to 1 specific inning though? Is the 8th inning guy getting 95% of his work in the 8th inning or more like 50%? I don't know if these roles are as defined as people think they are.
     
  29. joe dokes

    joe dokes Member SoSH Member

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    I don't consider this so much "buying in" as "adjusting." And I don't know that its easy for a pitcher who has done things one way for a long time to change it.

    OTOH -- *This* group of relievers, lacking anyone with "closer" experience, has had practice at being ready for multiple situations. Even Barnes -- of 62 games, 33 in the 8th, 22 in the 7th, 5 in the 6th; 5 before the 6th.
     
  30. bosox79

    bosox79 Member SoSH Member

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    Considering teams are constantly promoting and demoting closers and set up guys during the course of the season, I'm guessing it's not hard to adjust to a new role.
     
  31. joe dokes

    joe dokes Member SoSH Member

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    Whatever doubts I have, I think this is probably right. But the "new role" could border on "no particular role." That could be the hard part.
     
  32. Pozo the Clown

    Pozo the Clown lurker

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    Based on what we know about Cora prepping players on what to be ready for prior to a given game (e.g., telling Nunez to be ready to pinch hit against a lefty in WS Game 1), I could see Cora verbally prepping various BP arms for certain situations/lineup stretches.

    Anyway you slice it, I have infinitely more faith in Cora being able to make a bullpen-by-committee model work than when they asked Grady to do so in '03.
     
  33. Plympton91

    Plympton91 bubble burster SoSH Member

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    The reason closer by committee has such a bad reputation isn’t because the concept is unsound but rather because it is the last refuge of teams that have bad bullpens. Thus, it is no surprise the Red Sox are exploring this option to minimize a glaring weakness. If it works, great. If it doesn’t work, it’ll be because the pitchers aren’t very good to start with, not because closer by committee is an inherently bad idea
     
  34. jon abbey

    jon abbey Shanghai Warrior Dope SoSH Member

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    Zach Britton talked about this this week as far as NY goes, he said he wouldn't have signed anywhere else to not be the closer, but he talked specifically about how Boone was great at communicating with him before every game and letting him know the possibilities for his usage for that day. I don't think this would be too hard to do with a full bullpen.
     
  35. Pozo the Clown

    Pozo the Clown lurker

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  36. Rough Carrigan

    Rough Carrigan reasons within Reason Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    Yup. People forget that before the triumph of "creeping LaRussa-ism", as Bob Ryan termed it, EVERY bullpen was closer by committee. Teams always directed some save opportunities to other guys, even if they had Rollie Fingers or Dick Radatz. Then, once the rigid closer thing became the way that a manager could avoid criticism, teams only went away from it as a last resort.
     
  37. Red(s)HawksFan

    Red(s)HawksFan Member SoSH Member

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    Great point. There's a reason that the all time saves list is dominated by pitchers from the last 20-25 years (K-Rod is 4th all time!?), and that is because of the rise of reserving save opportunities for one specific pitcher above all others. In the first couple decades after save became an official stat, the league leaders in saves were generally the best relievers on their teams and racked up 100+ innings because their role was relief ace rather than "closer". They got saves more because they were brought in to put out a fire and happened to be left in to finish the game, rather than because they were held out until the end of the game specifically to get the save.

    Just pulling two random seasons...1975 and 2017. Goose Gossage led MLB in saves in 1975 with 26, out of 39 total team saves for the White Sox (67%^). Of the 13 he didn't get, Dave Hamilton got 6 and Terry Forster got 4 (two others got the last three). Contrast that to Alex Colome leading MLB in 2017 with 47 saves, out of 53 total team saves for the Rays (89%). Of the six he didn't get, they were spread out among five other pitchers. There was nothing particularly special about Alex Colome except that he was deemed to be "the closer" for the year. He was not the Rays most effective reliever (Tommy Hunter and Brad Boxberger were better across the board).

    Closer is the only role in the game that is defined and motivated by a stat rather than the game situation. There's no reason it can't go back to being a "committee" role.
     
  38. charlieoscar

    charlieoscar Member

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    While today people think of Dick Radatz as a closer, he was not a closer as is thought of today; that is, he frequently pitched a lot more innings than one sees with today's closers. For example:

    1962 -- 62 games, of which 32 were 2+ IP and 11 were 3+ IP with highs of 5.0/7.0/9.0 IP
    1963 -- 66 games, of which 29 were 2+ IP and 14 were 3+ IP with highs of 6.0/7.0/8.2 IP
    1964 -- 79 games, of which 47 were 2+ IP and 18 were 3+ IP with highs of 4.0/4.0/5.0 IP
    1965 -- 63 games, of which 30 were 2+ IP and 17 were 3+ IP with highs of 6.0/6.0/6.0 IP -- bb.ref

    Generally speaking, if the game went into extra innings, he was left in. And in 1962 when he pitched 5.0 innings in one game, he pitched 7.0 the next day. He was overworked and as a result, only pitched 16 games for Boston in 1966 before he was traded to the Indians and his career went rapidly downhill (ending in 1969, with 1968 spent in the minors).
     
  39. rajendra82

    rajendra82 Member SoSH Member

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  40. BaseballJones

    BaseballJones goalpost mover SoSH Member

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    Well there is a reason. Quite often pitchers prefer to have defined roles. It helps them prepare mentally and can improve performance. I’ve never been around a pro clubhouse but I’ve been around elite college players and the pitchers have explained this to me. Maybe it’s all in their heads, I don’t know. But it seems like the more they have a set role, the more likely they feel it is that they’ll do well.

    Is that reason enough to not go back to how things used to be? I don’t know. But it’s at least a reason.
     
  41. Reverend

    Reverend for king and country Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    I actually prefer the idea that Cora has taken over and the players are on board.

    It increasingly seems like the whole concept of the closer has been a function of teams having bad communication skills and primitive statistical analysis for contract negotiations. If the Red Sox are getting out ahead of the curve on maintaining a better clubhouse as value added in the W column, I'm all for that.
     
  42. geoduck no quahog

    geoduck no quahog Well-Known Member Lifetime Member SoSH Member

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    The 2 differences of being a closer, just to re-state the obvious:

    1. Bigger payday

    2. Routine...knowing when you're going to pitch.

    Of course, #2 is kind of a thing. In the book, Closer, Eckersley says:

    "As soon as the phone rings when you are a relief pitcher, the most important part is knowing that the call is for you...You don't want to be surprised. And you can never be surprised when you are the closer. Again, it's all about the adrenaline. You can never get too used to it, but if you can channel it, you can be better than you can be. I'll tell you what; it makes you better than you are. Without the adrenaline I don't know how you can pitch..."

    This feeds right into Cora's prepping approach. If Eckersley's opinion is correct for the typical reliever, knowing ahead of time when you'll probably be called upon is a thing, but even closers need to watch the game and manage expectations as the score and situation changes (e.g., team ahead by a run in the 8th...then behind by 4 runs). It's just easier if you know you're never pitching in certain situations, or certain to pitch in others.

    Like many here, I trust Cora to do what he can. Still, I'm more concerned with the psychological impact of losing games in the 9th instead of the 7th. Both are losses, but the 9th inning one tears you apart. There's no getting around that.
     
  43. joe dokes

    joe dokes Member SoSH Member

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    I think the communication aspect will be fine. Whether its from actual comments based on last year, or my sense of how he does things, each reliever will know before a game when and how he might be used. The difference is that it might be different than yesterday or tomorrow, but if the call comes in the 5th for Brasier one day, I dont think he'll be surprised when the phone rings, even if he was surprised at breakfast when Levangie told him.

    As to the second part... I think that part of the reason that Cora is optimistic about this is that he doesn't -- and he doesn't think the team will - get "torn apart" about a 9th inning loss. It will suck in the moment, but its unlikely to affect them tomorrow, which is all that really matters.** I share that belief. They had their share of shitty losses last year, starting with opening day. And it just didn't matter. (quick and dirty...they won two in a row after each of their walk-off losses (SSS)).


    **Other than for the outside-the-locker-room angst it creates as everyone from Lumerloni and others at the flagship station to MLB.com to right here in these pages wonders if "this loss will [fill in the blank of horribleness]."
     
  44. Don Buddin's GS

    Don Buddin's GS Member SoSH Member

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    Immediately thought of this.

     
  45. DeadlySplitter

    DeadlySplitter Member SoSH Member

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  46. bosox79

    bosox79 Member SoSH Member

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    So he can get offered even less next off season after a year away from the majors.
     
  47. Papelbon's Poutine

    Papelbon's Poutine Homeland Security SoSH Member

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    I’m talking about Joe Kelly ever being resigned for a 1/$2.5M deal. I’m not sure how that was unclear.
     
  48. Sandy Leon Trotsky

    Sandy Leon Trotsky Member SoSH Member

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    Who is this guys agent? This is one of the dumbest moves in the world. Unless you can somehow convince all the GM's that taking a year off will somehow keep him sharp AND extend his shelf life, then this is a comically horrible move. Someone out there isn't offering at least a $15 M deal for one season?!?!?!?! If he thinks he can get more in 2020 then he'd take whatever the highest is for a one year deal and then show everyone what he thinks he can accomplish to make him worth $18M/per.
    I know SSS and all but his playoff performances with the Sox (and his meh showing through August and September have really hurt him).
     
  49. Bob Montgomery's Helmet Hat

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

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    Right. He was talking about Shawn Kelley, who signed for 1/$2.5M. Obviously, he wasn't talking about Joe Kelly.
     
  50. Papelbon's Poutine

    Papelbon's Poutine Homeland Security SoSH Member

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    Well then I’m a dunce. Apologies.
     

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