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Sox Bullpen Follies (2003-2005)


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#1 philly sox fan


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Posted 21 September 2005 - 11:54 PM

When the Sox kicked Remlinger to the curb I put together a list of every reliever in the Theo era, but I never got around to writing it up. With the crappitude of the pen a topic tonight as the Sox slip to second place I thought a quickie looksie would be apropos.

I split the players into four groups. The first is just the key relievers that were expected to pitch the bulk of the high leverage innings.

The second is just a catchall for the Sox odd fixation with using starters in the pen. That was mostly during 2003. I put Schilling with the key relievers since he was used more purposefully as a reliever.

The third group is the Sox prospects whoíve come up this year. I was originally going to do this year by year and the emergence of actual prospects moving through the pen in 2005 is a major difference.

The fourth group is the various retreads that you probably donít remember now, but at some point most of them had someone on the board proclaiming them as sleeper pickups. Afterall, so many good relievers come out of nowhere that any rube should be able to stumble on one every once in a while.

Jamesian Relief Aces One and All!
Player       IP     ARP     YEAR
Foulke       83     31.4    2004
Timlin       83.7   20.4    2003
Timlin       75.3   20.2    2005
Embree       55     14.3    2003
Williamson   28.7   11.0    2004
Embree       52.3   10.3    2004
Timlin       76.3    9.6    2004
Myers        33.3    8.4    2005
Mendoza      30.7    6.8    2004
Kim          50.3    2.5    2003
Myers        14.7    1.2    2004
Schilling    24.3    0.3    2005
Williamson   20.3   -0.4    2003
Bradford     20.3   -3.2    2005
Foulke       45.7   -3.4    2005
Embree       37.7   -4.5    2005
Howry         4.3   -4.7    2003
Sauerbeck    16.7   -5.2    2003
Fox          18     -5.6    2003
Mantei       26.3   -5.8    2005
Mendoza      42.3   -9.7    2003
             839.2   93.9

An ARP of ~15 is generally good for ~40th in baseball. Iíd say getting over 15 ARP is a reasonable benchmark of a good season for a reliever on a championship contender. So far Epstein has gotten one great year from Foulke (and one not so great one) and two good ones from Timlin (though 2005 is going to drop after tonight). Embree was close in 2003, but it wasnít much of a year. Thatís actually a good measure of how low a 15 ARP benchmark really is.

Just doing quick estimates Iíd say the Sox spent roughly 50M (not counting Schilling at all) on this collection of key relievers. Thatís a lot of money for 94 runs even if they are high leverage runs. There are 21 pitcher seasons in that group and the only impact seasons are from Foulke and Timlin. Every other pitcher season runs the gamut from awful to eh.

Starters in the Pen
Player       IP     ARP     YEAR
Suppan        3.7    3.5    2003
Burkett       9      1.9    2003
Wakefield     3      1.7    2003
Fossum        9      0.8    2003
Arroyo        3      0.4    2005
Kim           5.7   -0.1    2004
Wakefield     3     -0.3    2004
Arroyo        0.3   -2.0    2004
              36.7    5.9

Not really much to say except I bet there arenít a lot of teams with so many starters with mostly random bullpen appearances.

Prospects Ė The Future is Not Quite Now
Player       IP     ARP     YEAR
Hansen        1      0.5    2005
Delcarmen     7.7   -1.1    2005
Papelbon     12     -1.9    2005
Alvarez       2.3   -3.0    2005
Meredith      2.3   -5.8    2005
              25.3  -11.3  
Itís tremendously encouraging that the Sox have debuted some very talented and promising relievers this year. Putting aside complaints about how Francona has used them, their actual aggregate performance to date has been pretty poor. Most of that is due to the lower ceiling Alvarez and Meredith, of course, but the hot shot trio hasnít had much of an impact.

Retreads
Player       IP     ARP     YEAR
Leskanic    27.7     8.6    2004
Arroyo      17.3     4.5    2003
Castillo     1       2.1    2004
Gonzalez    40.3     1.5    2005
Tolar        4       1.3    2003
McCarty      3.7     0.8    2004
Dinardo      3.7     0.8    2005
Chen         3.3     0.7    2003
Harville     5.7     0.3    2005
Malaska     20      -0.1    2004
Shiell      23.3    -0.2    2003
Seibel       3.7    -0.9    2004
Woodard     17.7    -1.2    2003
Perisho      0      -1.2    2005
Jones       29.3    -1.7    2003
Nelson       2.7    -2.4    2004
Anderson     6      -2.6    2004
Cassidy      0.7    -2.6    2004
Brown        7.7    -2.9    2004
Person      11.7    -3.3    2003
Almonte      7.7    -3.5    2003
Jones        3.3    -3.5    2004
Rupe         4      -3.7    2003
Martinez    10.7    -3.7    2004
Dinardo     27.7    -3.9    2004
Astacio      4.7    -4.1    2004 
Seanez       8.7    -5.8    2003
Neal         8      -5.8    2005
Adams       27      -6.3    2004
White        3.7    -7.8    2003
Lyons       59      -8.0    2003
Remlinger    6.7    -9.9    2005
Halama      38.7   -11.6    2005
            439.4   -76.1

I wouldnít expect anyone to be able to come up with all these names off the top of their heads, but surely just seeing some of them Ė Tolar! Anderson! Rupe! Brown! Ė should bring back some fond memories. Or not.

Leskanic was surprisingly useful pitching with his arm falling off. Arroyo was certainly good as a Sept callup. Lyons got a bunch of saves before he fell apart. And thatís basically it. Itís a whole lot of crap thrown against and not much to show for it. Not even a good shit mural.

#2 SpacemanzGerbil

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 12:06 AM

I think the one thing that surprised me out of all of that is that Gonzalez has saved a run and a half this year.

#3 jmcc5400

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 12:18 AM

1.5 runs above replacement level, which over 40 innings, basically means that Gonzo is replacement level.

I hate to give the FO a pass on this but it does seem like they've had some relatively unforeseeable bad luck - Williamson and Sauerbeck in '03, Foulke this year. On the other hand, it is incredibly galling to see guys like Howry, Sauerbeck and Hector Carrasco (!) having effective years.

I'm surprised that Kim's '03 is such a low net number.

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#4 OttoC


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 12:24 AM

Some of those retreads that Boston let go are doing well for other clubs now, aren't they?

#5 philly sox fan


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 12:26 AM

I'm surprised that Kim's '03 is such a low net number. 

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Yeah I meant to mention that... iirc Kim had one or two early bullpen appearances between starts early in the year. I think he got knocked around a bit. Depending on how badlyhe got knocked around that could be responsible for offsetting several runs that he earned in the second half working exclusively from the pen.

#6 philly sox fan


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 12:34 AM

Some of those retreads that Boston let go are doing well for other clubs now, aren't they?

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Yup. Todd Jones, Rudy Seanez and Bruce Chen have all been good this year.

#7 jmcc5400

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 12:43 AM

Man, I just looked at Carrasco's numbers and I just got pissed.

Bad enough that Carrasco racked up a 9.45 ERA and 2.73 WH/IP in the dark days of '00;

Bad enough that Hyzdu is our 4th of instead of Lew Ford;

Now Carrasco adds insult to injury by racking up a 2.01 ERA and 1.09 WH/IP in '05 in a year when the Sox have the worst bullpen since . . . well, since they traded for Carrasco? Prick.

(i realize Carrasco is not an '03-'05 folly, but an altogether different category of folly)

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#8 jmcc5400

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 12:45 AM

Oh, and let the record reflect that Paul M. was right about Howry. Two years too late and the proof's buried at the bottom of Lake EZboard, but he was right.

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#9 mr guido

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 07:50 AM

Philly, thanks for putting this together, it makes for some interesting reading.

Just for kicks here's your hi-lev group ordered by the average leverage of their appearances (where 1.0 is the same as it would be at the start of the game)

WXRL is the number of wins added over replacement level after adjustments for quality of opposition (based on win expectancy calculations).

                   LEV     WXRL
Kim          2003   1.77   2.315
Schilling    2005   1.50   0.032
Foulke       2004   1.47   4.405
Timlin       2005   1.33   1.847
Embree       2004   1.25   1.969
Timlin       2003   1.22   2.787
Timlin       2004   1.20   2.668
Fox          2003   1.20  -0.881
Embree       2003   1.19   1.268
Foulke       2005   1.18  -0.957
Bradford     2005   1.07   0.205
Williamson   2004   0.93   1.251
Mendoza      2003   0.93  -0.579
Embree       2005   0.91  -0.996
Sauerbeck    2003   0.89  -0.291
Williamson   2003   0.86  -0.155
Myers        2005   0.84   0.954
Mendoza      2004   0.83   1.021
Myers        2004   0.82  -0.034
Mantei       2005   0.63  -0.293
Howry        2003   0.45  -0.485

Also, here are the wins over replacement level for the important bullpen members grouped by year
2003: 3.979
2004: 11.28
2005: .792

The good news is our 2005 key bullpen members are over replacement level... for now.

The 2003 and 2004 bullpens would look much better if we factored in the massive contributions in the playoffs, which IMO should count for something though it's hard to say how much.

What do you think Theo etc's chances of putting together a better pen in 06 are? Maybe we should have our own Fantasy Bullpen competition next spring and see how well we can do predicting relative to the team...

Edited by mr guido, 22 September 2005 - 07:51 AM.


#10 Smiling Joe Hesketh


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 07:51 AM

The 2003 and 2004 bullpens would look much better if we factored in the massive contributions in the playoffs, which IMO should count for something though it's hard to say how much.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Great point.

Williamson was awful during the 2003 regular season, but was a lights-out stud in the 2003 playoffs.

Foulke was great in the 2004 regular season and unhittable in the 2004 playoffs in 14 of the highest-leveraged innings imaginable.

#11 Rudy Pemberton


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 08:06 AM

What do you think Theo etc's chances of putting together a better pen in 06 are?


I thnk the chances are decent, because we finally have some decent young arms from the system to lean on. It's pretty tough to find identify and acquire good relievers on the FA market; I think you really need to have a few guys from your system to plug in. We should get at least a few from the Hansen, Papelbon, Delcarmen, Dinardo group, I hope.

#12 PedroKsBambino


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 08:37 AM

That's a very interesting set of data to look at.

A huge percentage of the players, though, have such small samples it's hard to really know what they mean. For example, if Todd Jones throws a few innings and then disappears, to what degree is that a reflection on Todd Jones being a bad pickup versus Todd Jones not being used?

Bottom line is driven by the top-tier guys, of course, and clearly the Sox have failed to get either enough production or good value there. But interesting to ask just how much of a story there really is in all those smaller guys, too.

#13 smastroyin


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 08:41 AM

I thnk the chances are decent, because we finally have some decent young arms from the system to lean on. It's pretty tough to find identify and acquire good relievers on the FA market; I think you really need to have a few guys from your system to plug in. We should get at least a few from the Hansen, Papelbon, Delcarmen, Dinardo group, I hope.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I have to admit that I am inclined to turn the bullpen over to the yute's and let them run with it for a while. If you need to satisfy a fetish for retreads, make them guys that can go to the bucket.

However, like this year, the most important question for the bullpen is going to be whether the $7 MM relief ace can actually perform. I believe that he can and that there is no mystery timeclock on his ability to fool hitters, so I wouldn't trade him just to get rid of him. (if someone wants to take on his salary, that's a different story I guess).

#14 Rudy Pemberton


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 08:51 AM

A huge percentage of the players, though, have such small samples it's hard to really know what they mean.


I agree with this- but isn't the flipside that it's hard to give up anything of value for a guy like Matt Wise, who while successful, has done it in an extremely small sample in a totally different environment? I agree though that Wise is the kind of guy the Sox need to be targeting, under the radar guys with good arms who haven't had extended chances. It's just tought to find those guys- and if they dont' succeed initially, they seem to fail, esp. in a market like this.

I've said it before, but what responsibility / role does Dave Wallace play in the failures of the pen? Jason Varitek?

#15 PedroKsBambino


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 08:58 AM

That was my position on Wise at the time Paul M was talking about it, and I still think that's the case. Though, I also recognize that sitting here today the team would be well better off with the kind of deal he wanted, too.

I've never made much of the catcher or pitching coach (or bullpen coach) doing anything with the bullpen, so I'm not going to start now.

Mantei was the right idea, it just didn't work. They needed another quality arm pretty much all year, and it's never gotten here. Another set of guys who can contribute under-the-radar is failed starters who are more effective in short relief---Dempster, Cal Eldred, etc. It's worth taking a few shots on this in spring training, though the evidence over the past three years is that the Sox (for whatever reason) are fairly unlikely to stick with the experiment long enough to really see a fair resolution of it either way.

#16 soxfan121


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 09:00 AM

What do you think Theo etc's chances of putting together a better pen in 06 are?


IMO, Theo is 2/3 in putting together effective bullpens in time for the "important" part of the year. The 2003 bullpen began the year historically bad, acquired Kim & Williamson and would have been remembered as the "heroes" of that season had #$%$# not been managing with his head way up his own ass. The 2004 bullpen was excellent, with the addition of Foulke, who should have been the team MVP of the playoffs. Williamson's injury certainly limited the 2004 bullpen, but it was a championship level bullpen from top to bottom.

The 2005 bullpen has been terrible, but I'm not sure that's it the fault of management - although they will certainly accept the blame.

First, while I think it was guess-able that Foulke was going to have a terrible season following his October heroics, it wasn't likely. Yet, it happened and everything was a trickle down from there. Embree, like Foulke, used up all the gas in the tank during the 04 playoffs - there was nothing left this year. Leskanic blew up his own arm before the season began. As did Williamson (albeit before the playoffs). That left Timlin...who was good until he was ridden like the Ferris Wheel at the County Fair - all day long and twice on Sundays. Add to that the poor Halama decision and the even worse "6th man" (be he Neal or Harville or whatever) and there's good logical reasons as to why the bullpen absolutely blew this season.

I think that with the influx of Hansen & Dinardo to the bullpen full-time next season (in a set-up & long-man role, respectively) that the complimentary parts will be able to be located. A LHP who can get RHB out is a must (Eddie Guardado?) and a return to form by Foulke is important. And less Timlin, especially with runners on would nice. Something like:

CL-Foulke
RH SU 1- Timlin
RH SU 2 - Hansen
LH SU 1 - TBD (Guardado/Marte/someone of that caliber)
Middle Man - Papelbon?
Long Man - Dinardo

Of course, it's entirely possible that with the "kids" around that Theo may decide that the best LHP to fill the need is Billy Wagner, which would certainly relieve Foulke from high-lev duty (on paper) for the first half of the season. That might be the best use of resources, given the SP on the farm (Papelbon/Lester/Sanchez) who are less than a season from being "ready" and the lack of front-line SP options in the FA market. Wagner would fix lots of problems with the BOS bullpen, that's for sure.

#17 Rudy Pemberton


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 09:05 AM

Can you risk $27M on Billy Wagner, though? This team is carrying a lot of risk in Schilling, Renteria, Foulke, Clement, Manny- I just can't envision giving $9M per to another closer. If the Sox are going to invest that kind of money in a player, I'd rather it be Milwood or Burnett, two guys I don't even feel very strongly about. Let the kids break in in the pen; they are likely to help there and it builds them confidence to start down the road. I worry about dumping Arroyo and asking Papelbon (or Sanchez) to start before they are ready.

I guess the bottom line is that I can't envision signing Billy Wagner until you figure out what the hell to do with Foulke. $16M invested in closers is a tough pill to swallow, isn't it?

Here's a crazy thought....why not let Foulke do what he wants and give him a chance to start? Maybe a role reversal could help his confidence, a fresh start. Any chance Clement would be interested in closing? Probably a stupid and unrealistic idea, I admit.

Edited by Rudy Pemberton, 22 September 2005 - 09:06 AM.


#18 Eddie Jurak


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 09:08 AM

I have to admit that I am inclined to turn the bullpen over to the yute's and let them run with it for a while.† If you need to satisfy a fetish for retreads, make them guys that can go to the bucket.

The only reason to be a little nervous about that is because I'd hate to damage a guy like Papelbon via bullpen overuse. Otherwise, I'm all for it. I'd like to see the Sox have 5-6 bullpen guys with options around, so that the ones who do well can pitch in Boston, and the ones who do poorly can be sent down.

Philly, how does the Red Sox bullpen during the Theo era compare to other teams? How does one build a good bullpen? It seems to beclear that the approaches taken by Theo & co. have not worked all that well.

Edited by Eddie Jurak, 22 September 2005 - 09:10 AM.


#19 PedroKsBambino


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 09:19 AM

I doubt the Sox sink huge money into another closer, and if they do I'd expect it's the more versatile relief ace-style BJ Ryan.

Actually, if Ryan will sign a deal similar to Foulke's in size ($6-$7 mil a year) then that's a pretty nice pair to go to battle with. Vastly overpaid in the abstract and will lead to a flood of "nice to be rich" commentary t but for a team like the Red Sox perhaps a better way to spend money than other options, such as unproven Japanese starting pitching or what have you.

That all said, I'm not sure the Sox will buy anyone more expensive than Timlin in the offseason. A couple of proven vet arms is probably what we'll see, with Hansen and MDC/Cla behind them.

#20 Paul M


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 09:22 AM

If Foulke were Foulke, the pen would be significantly better.

A very good pen really only needs--

relief ace, very good vs. lefties and righties
good righty split, and decent vs. lefties
good lefty split, and decent vs. lefties

add a somewhat competent long-man and a few middle men that are even replacement-level, and the pen would be an asset.

I said it in the Tito thread, but Foulke's loss was not appreciated at the time.

Drafting a relief ace like Hansen and hopefully Delcarmen can be good righty split guy, and someone can take the lefties, is the approach they'll take.

#21 Rudy Pemberton


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 09:32 AM

What are proven vet arms though? Not trying to be argumentative here- it just seems like the problem is that there are very few of these guys.

The following pitchers were among the top 30 in WXRL (Relievers Expected Wins Added) for these years

2002: Koch, Percival, Benitez, Romero, Kim, Dotel, Groom, Nen, Remlinger, Mike Williams, Karsay, Todd Jones, Politte, Looper, Dejean, Sauerbeck, Graves, Hawkins, Tony Fiore, Scott Stewart

2003: Donnelly, Hawkins, Cormier, Borowski, Dotel, Mota, Hasegawa, Worrell, Mantei, Tavarez, Valverde, Aquilino Lopez, Looper, Ayala, Kolb, Quantrill, Weathers, Bradford, Beck

2004: Benitez, Foulke, Takatsu, Mesa, Looper, Todd Jones, Ray King, Kolb, Torres, Mota, Worrell, Frasor, Brower, Dotel

2005: Turnbow, Dempster, Baez, Hermanson, Eyre, Howry, Weathers, Frasor

So who is a proven vet arm? I think the Sox should take a look at Looper (shows up every year from 2002-2004), Mota, Hawkins, Baez...but it kinda seems like a crapshoot. Guys go from really good to awful in a blink of an eye...how do you identify which guys will be good and who won't?

#22 PedroKsBambino


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 09:42 AM

I personally think Looper's presence shows the issues with that metric (which, by the way, no one here has yet been able to figure out so far as I know!). But I really don't like Looper and think he's one of those guys who a closer look really exposes, plus a guy on a clear downward trajectory. If you get him for short money, ok...if you pay for the saves, it's a bad plan IMO.

The rest of that group is the guys I'd look at. Plus people like David Riske, Rafael Betancourt, Cliff Politte. I haven't dug into contract status enough, but generally speaking I think a $2-$4 mil bullpen arm on a 1-2 year deal is a good percentage bet....the fact that they flame-out is just part of the game, it doesn't stop you from taking the best percentage bets.

#23 Rudy Pemberton


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 09:46 AM

If you don't like that metric, give me another one. The point is that the best relievers year to year are often times different guys, guys who come out of the blue, and guys who disappear as quickly as they became good relievers. I"m wondering how you identify who will be a good reliever in '05, since looking at the previous year doesn't seem to help that much.

Guys like Politte, Betancourt, and Riske are pretty unlikely to be available, aren't they?

As far as Looper, he looks pretty good in every metric I can find. A 131 ERA+ over 2002-2004, 0.6 HR/9, 2.6 BB/9, 6.2 K/9. I imagine he's likely to be available; and could be a good fit here. Sure he has issues, but it wasn't long ago that Cliff Politte stunk either.

Edited by Rudy Pemberton, 22 September 2005 - 09:48 AM.


#24 BTwnDreamin

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 09:54 AM

If Foulke were Foulke, the pen would be significantly better.

A very good pen really only needs--

relief ace, very good vs. lefties and righties
good righty split, and decent vs. lefties
good lefty split, and decent vs. lefties

add a somewhat competent long-man and a few middle men that are even replacement-level, and the pen would be an asset.

I said it in the Tito thread, but Foulke's loss was not appreciated at the time.

Drafting a relief ace like Hansen and hopefully Delcarmen can be good righty split guy, and someone can take the lefties, is the approach they'll take.

I tend to agree with Paul.


We've tried a lot of guys and a lot of formulas and really it all boils down to Foulke's ineffectiveness which has taken a toll on the rest of the pen.

I'd like to say at least it gave Schill a chance to work himself back on the big club, but even then he was not stellar and really lost a few games for us in the process.

I'm not sure if Foulke can 'get it back' but I'm hoping that the time Schill was in the pen with all the work he got up through his starts since then has given him a chance to develop the comfort needed to lead us into the playoffs and beyond.

If so, can our bullpen turn it around to hold those games? Who will Tito turn to to do this?

Edited by BTwnDreamin, 22 September 2005 - 09:54 AM.


#25 PedroKsBambino


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 09:55 AM

My view has always been that there's just no one stat you can use for relievers, much as I know this frustrates the desire for quick and easy. VORP tells you some things you want to know (volume and quality), as does win expectancy (success in the role used, sort of)...but they are also (to differing degrees) backwards looking stats more than predictive ones, and they each greatly vary based on usage patterns. Needless to say, looking at "saves" is even worse!

I think base skills are the best way to pick relievers. Looking at baserunners per inning, L/R splits, K/9, K/BB, hr/9, gb/fb all help. It's basically a question of what the pitcher's raw skills are, and beyond that it's about how the pitcher can be utilized.

As I understand the win expectancy stat, and I don't think it's worthless, is that it does a much better job of assessing how someone did than how they'll do and with short relievers that can very hugely because of role. Mike Myers is capable of being a very useful reliever who can help win expectancy; if he's used wrongly, though, he's below replacement level IMO. But if all you look at is the single number, you don't really know which of these was true of the performance in the given year.

Edited by PedroKsBambino, 22 September 2005 - 09:56 AM.


#26 mr guido

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 09:55 AM

I personally think Looper's presence shows the issues with that metric (which, by the way, no one here has yet been able to figure out so far as I know!).

BP has actually updated their explanation of the stat to match what we suspected it was:

WX

Expected wins added over an average pitcher. WX uses win expectancy calculations to assess how relievers have changed the outcome of games. Win expectancy looks at the inning, score, and runners on base when the reliever entered the game, and determines the probability of the team winning the game from that point with an average pitcher. Then it looks at how the reliever actually did, and how that changes the probability of winning. The difference between how the reliever improved the chances of winning and how an average pitcher would is his WX.

WXRL

Expected wins added over a replacement level pitcher, adjusted for level of opposing hitters. WXRL combines the individual adjustments for replacement level (WXR) and quality of the opposing lineup (WXL) to the basic WX calculation.


It's not much of a predictive stat since it relies on usage (it's sort of the reliever's equivalent of RBI) but it is a good indicator of who was a relief ace and who was costing their teams games, and to what extent.

I don't know what the most predictive stat for relievers is but there aren't a lot of options precisely because relievers are so tricky to predict.

#27 Pumpsie


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 09:56 AM

but it kinda seems like a crapshoot.


It IS a bit of a crapshoot AND Theo's lousy at craps.

#28 PedroKsBambino


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 09:57 AM

Thanks for the update, mr guido! It's good we were able to dope it out, and it's probably the best one at this point for in-season valuation I think. But as you and I each noted....

It's not much of a predictive stat since it relies on usage (it's sort of the reliever's equivalent of RBI) but it is a good indicator of who was a relief ace and who was costing their teams games, and to what extent.



#29 Paul M


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 09:58 AM

Dominance, command, and homr-run rate are what to look at, as well as splits.

Some of the fluke guys were easy to pick ex ante.

ERA, hits allowed, and stuff influenced by sample size can be misleading. Timlin's good, but not great even though he is ranked high in some relief ratings. Next year, I could see an implosion--HR rate is way too low, and he's losing command and swing-and-miss abilities.

The one huge wild-card is health and usage, which is related. Foulke threw a lot for several years, so it does make it tough, though the trends even for him should have portended a slip in skills.

#30 PedroKsBambino


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 10:01 AM

Let me plug Shandler here; I know it's roto but I think his "LIMA Plan" relievers analysis is a very good approach to this and, frankly, I'll bet it's outperformed the Red Sox on BP value the last few years (though---Shandler's book says that Theo buys it and has it on his bookshelf, FWIW!)

I'm going to guess Paul M is a reader as well based on the terminology, but I could be wrong!

The one thing the base skills approach doesn't figure in is whether there's a different level of performance from, say, pitching the 8th and pitching the 6th. I tend to think there is for some pitchers and not for others, but as there's absolutely no reliable way to assess this I don't know that it's worth worrying about, other than recognizing it's a major variable we don't have a good metric for (and here, I suppose, one could say that WXRL at least tells us what someone did in the past as to this).

Edited by PedroKsBambino, 22 September 2005 - 10:03 AM.


#31 Angel Santos in Red

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 10:19 AM

I think that we'll need to groom from within. In the BP interview post the "expert" talks about high-leverage situations occuring in all sorts of innings after the SP exits. Just that more emphasis is placed on the 9th inning for obvious reasons. Timlin's introduction was one of those situations, we just needed a guy that can get outs.

Not that we need to start slipping Papelbon or Hansen in these situations, at this time of year, but I think those high-leverage situations throughout the year will help in grooming them, so they will be able to come in in such situations.

I like watching how guys like Baez and Kolb emerge, but paying dearly for these guys can also hurt a team. Look at Karsay, as the extreme example. Heck, despite having won us the WS, Foulke has (hopefully temporarily) turned into a pumpkin. We just need to find/groom our own. For now, we need stop-gaps -- heck, maybe Hansen was the right one to put in there.

My 2 cents. And I wouldn't touch Looper.

#32 yecul


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 10:25 AM

I haven't been particularily impressed with the FO's work on the pitching staff. I don't really expect that to change unless the youth movement comes through big -- if they can get two good ones next year (say, Hansen and MDC) to plug in then that will go a long way in helping.

#33 soxfan121


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 10:45 AM

I guess the bottom line is that I can't envision signing Billy Wagner until you figure out what the hell to do with Foulke. $16M invested in closers is a tough pill to swallow, isn't it?


I think the rebuilding of the bullpen depends entirely on the FO assessment of Foulke. Based on what we've seen and heard this season, (SPECULATION ALERT!)Keith Foulke does not sound like a guy who is motivated to get back to where he once was. That's scary, IMO. I can see a guy like Foulke, who's never been passionate about baseball, getting further down in the dumps because of his personal situation this off-season and not doing the physical rehab necessary. If that is true...then whatever we're paying Foulke is going to be a waste, anyway. There's no need to handicap the 2006 Red Sox because of a projectable (and possible) continued implosion of Keith Foulke.

At this point, I'm tempted to consider Foulke "lost" until he proves he isn't. Maybe starting would get him back. Maybe he just needs the off-season to recover. maybe he comes back in 2006 as Keith Foulke, circa 2004. But I don't believe you can assume that WILL happen. I think the FO has to assume (and plan for) the worst case scenario. The WCS is that the 2006 Red Sox need a new closer.

I suggested Wagner for two reasons: 1.) Motivated veteran with a known price tag ($9M/season) who wants a short-term (2-3 years max) contract, and 2.) Lefthanded strikeout pitcher. I'm an Astros fan when I'm not watching the Sox, and I've seen Wagner for years. He's as good as they get in pressure situations.

I avoided suggesting BJ Ryan for two reasons: 1.) He's much younger than Wagner and will be looking for a "max" contract of at least 3 years and probably 5 (with options) at about the same money. IMO, Ryan is a superior player to invest in at this point in their careers and BJ's gonna get $9M from someone, and 2.) I have no idea how he'd react to pitching in Boston - with Wagner, I'm, realtively sure he would not be bothered by expectations, fans, media or other assorted crap. I have no idea on Ryan - he might handle it better or wrose. I just don't know.

The SP market is completely over-rated this season. Burnett is not worth $9M, IMO, and will command (probably) in excess of $11M because of the lack of options. Millwood is no more than a $6-7M pitcher, at best, and is no better than Arroyo as a long-term option. Further, the team has 7 potential starters under control for 2006: Schilling, Wakefield, Wells, Clement, Arroyo, Miller & Papelbon. Maybe Foulke gets added to that mix? Maybe Jon Lester or Anibal Sanchez is LIGHTS OUT in the spring and makes the leap (unlikely, but possible, since they'll be on the 40-man anyway). That's 10 potential starters on the 2006 depth chart - and we're ignoring Dinardo & Alvarez, who have started games for this team in the past and could again (although I think Dinardo's the long man and Abe will be traded). I don't see the need to add a high-salary SP who isn't a SURE THING. Barring a blockbuster trade, I think the 2006 starters are already in-house.

IMO, the key to a strong bullpen is to lock down the late innings. Once that happens, the bullpen LOOKS good regardless of the mixing & matching that needs to be figured out in the 6th & 7th inning. Craig Hansen SHOULD be handling the 8th inning next season, barring a complete collapse. He's got the stuff and that's how to "groom a future closer". Mike Timlin will return, but he's better as a 7th inning option at this point of his career.

Which leads us back to Keith Foulke as the key factor. If the FO is reasonably certain he can rebound, they'll let Ryan & Wagner pass on by and they'll go after a Guardado/Marte type. If not, they should use the $$ they have to sign Wagner or Ryan and soldify the 9th inning.

#34 LahoudOrBillyC


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 10:46 AM

Late to this great thread. I think the Red Sox approach with the kids is the right one, the one most likely to pay off, and the one with the least financial risk. Adding some lower priced guys with good arms (guys who have not been closers, and therefore not grossly overpaid) is a good one.

One of the reasons relief pitchers seem so inconsistent is that the modern usage pattern often does not allow a guy very many pitches before he "fails". This was a problem to some extent in 2003, where Grady would give the guy two or three innings, and one bad outing (which might be two bad pitches) and the guy would be on the hot seat, press for another outing, and then be in Pawtucket. The pitchers did not pitch well, but I felt then and feel now that a few of the guys at least had a gun to their heads after one or two outings.

This approach sucks, and I would especially hate to see this approach with our young guys. I don't want to see Manny Delcarmen pitching great inning for the Angels in two years because he "failed" here.

One of the reason Earl Weaver believed in long relief roles for young pitchers is that it gave them time to get going in an outing. A guy could come in losing 5-2, walk a guy, give up a couple of hits, but pitch another good inning or two and end up feeling OK about himself. He's thrown 40 pitches, most of them good ones, and he's ready to go in a few days.

You likely can't have your whole staff doing this, but it would be far preferable, in my view, if the typical outing for many of the "short" guys was 6 or 8 batters. I would like to see Manny Delcarmen get a chance to pitch two innings at a time to see how he looks--he walks the first guy, its not the end of the world. Papelbon is a starter, and should pitch several innings at a time. Hansen and Foulke can pitch to more batters. Although you should always be ready to remove a struggling pitcher, especially if it is a tight game, it is still preferable if all pitchers come in to start an inning if possible, or with the bases empty.

In addition to the strategic advantages I have touted (ad nauseum?), I think it makes for a better audition, a less pressure-filled outing, a better way to avoid, or recover from, brief slumps. The message to these guys should be two-fold: (1) we believe in you, and (2) everyone has a bad day, and we've got backup if you don't have it today.

Edited by LahoudOrBillyC, 22 September 2005 - 10:50 AM.


#35 The Gray Eagle


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 10:58 AM

It's kind of depressing to look at the retreads list and see that the Sox have done very poorly with those. Whoever the scouts are that are in charge of major league scouting either aren't being listened to or are wrong too often on relief pitching.

Remlinger for example-- he had solid K/BB numbers with the Cubs, but he had lost it by the time they cut him, which you would only know through scouting. Why did our scouts look at him and decide that he hadn't lost it? Or were they not listened to because he had solid numbers? At any rate, the team needs to do a better job of finding guys at the big league level that can help. Having young guys is great, but once they hit some rough patches next year, people will be looking at them quite a bit differently, as they won't be these youngsters full of potential, but actual big leaguers with faults and flaws that will be exposed. It usually takes a few years for a young pitcher to become reliably good, though I guess a relief pitcher like Street could come quicker than a starter, since he'd need fewer pitches and would get exposed less.

This team needs relievers who are very good. We've won it all when we've had that, and terribly wasted great offensive teams when we haven't.

It's worth the money to bring in another guy who has a real shot at being an elite reliever. Wagner would be great, but maybe they can't afford him. BJ Ryan would be great too, and maybe more affordable. Both of those guys could fail too, but we need someone to bolster this pen. There is no guarantee that Foulke will make it back, and even if he does, you can't just surround him with unproven guys and 40-year-old Timlin, unless you want to risk another meltdown like this year. Throw Ryan or Wagner into the mix and you have a vastly greater shot at having a lights-out bullpen and a lesser chance of having a crappy bullpen.

#36 Todd Benzinger

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 11:00 AM

We can get on the FO over this, but what jumps out at me is the sheer level of bad luck.

All these guys who've put together great years after leaving Boston, but while they were here they couldn't outperform the Tolars and Neals of the world. Theo got "lucky" on very few guys--maybe 04 Leskanic, 03 and 05 Timlin... who else? The other guys who were effective were doing it at or even below expectations (04 Foulke, 03 Kim).

I know guys like Jones and Seanez have been aided by their ballparks and perhaps better team D, but Neal was a washout from the same teams.

Is it fair to say that "it's a crapshoot and Theo is bad at craps" when so many of his scrapheapers were guys who had good seasons in them after the point they came here--just not for us? Or, OTOH, right before coming here which made them into Pumpkins--like Mendoza?

And what is making them stay scrapheapers until they leave Boston? Pressure? Coaching? Managing? Our ballpark? Our porous defense? Or a combo?

Is it partly the attitude toward relievers, the lack of patience? Or the flip side of that, the insistence on going back to the well when it's about dry (Bradford?) Look at MDC and Harville; one or two mediocre outings, and they are relegated to mop-up duty. I for one couldn't wait to get rid of Todd Jones, Bobby Howry, and Rudy Seanez... but would even they have had good season here if we let them?

EDIT: I wonder if it's normal for a guy to show up on a new team and struggle a bit, but we (RSN & the FO) just won't tolerate "failure" enough to let them find a groove? After all, baseball is a game in which "failure" is incessant and inevitable.

Edited by Todd Benzinger, 22 September 2005 - 11:05 AM.


#37 Todd Benzinger

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 11:07 AM

btw, didn't Wagner pretty much do the same thing Timlin did last night a few weeks ago--get his ass kicked in the 8th or 9th and sink his team in the WC race? Just a little perspective. It happens to everyone, even Mo Rivera (just not as often to Mo).

#38 scotian1


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 11:45 AM

Just listened to Sean McAdam's views on WEEI and how he can understand why Francona is reluctant to use the young arms and then went on to comment on how Delcarmen's lack of command is an example of this.
I just looked up the information on Delcarmen's outings with the Sox this year. He has made 8 appearances giving up a total of 3 runs all of which came in one outing in Minn. he has given up 6 walks and recorded 9 Ks.
Since that bad outing against the Twins, he has pitched in 4 games for a total of 4 innings. He has given up 0 runs, 1 walk and has struck out 5. How does that qualify for a lack of command? Is the home run Papelbon gave up the other night going to be held against him for the rest of the season? It just seems that one bad slip by a younger arm is remembered much longer than the Remlingers, Foulke's or even the Timlin's who has blown almost 50% of the save opportunities he has had.

#39 Smiling Joe Hesketh


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 11:58 AM

Just listened to Sean McAdam's views on WEEI and how he can understand why Francona is reluctant to use the young arms and then went on to comment on how Delcarmen's lack of command is an example of this.
  I just looked up the information on Delcarmen's outings with the Sox this year. He has made 8 appearances giving up a total of 3 runs all of which came in one outing in Minn. he has given up 6 walks and recorded 9 Ks.
  Since that bad outing against the Twins, he has pitched in 4 games for a total of 4 innings. He has given up 0 runs, 1 walk and has struck out 5. How does that qualify for a lack of command? Is the home run Papelbon gave up the other night going to be held against him for the rest of the season? It just seems that one bad slip by a younger arm is remembered much longer than the Remlingers, Foulke's or even the Timlin's who has blown almost 50% of the save opportunities he has had.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Delcarmen was walking a few too many guys in Pawtucket while getting regular, normal use. It's a concern and I'm sure Tito has the reports from the FO about Delcarmen's experience in Pawtucket.

#40 Steve Dillard


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 12:16 PM

Per EEI, Foulke done for the year, shutting it down.

#41 scotian1


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 12:18 PM

Per EEI, Foulke done for the year, shutting it down.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Personally the way things have gone recently I am not surprized by this. Hopefully this will work out best for both him and the Red Sox.

#42 SoxsFans

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 12:25 PM

Delcarmen was walking a few too many guys in Pawtucket while getting regular, normal use. It's a concern and I'm sure Tito has the reports from the FO about Delcarmen's experience in Pawtucket.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


If he was walking too many in AAA, why was he recalled?

Face the facts, the vets that have been on (or are on) the team are not getting the job done!

Timlin - should never come in with men on base
Bradford - Roogy at best
Myers - Loogy at best

Gonzalez - equal to a replacement level player

Papelbon, Delcarman, and Hansen are the necessary to the pitching staff this year!!!

*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-
On the subject of 2003-2005 "follies" I am curious to know what relief pitchers (non-closers) who have been effective during this time frame where available on the open market?
I suspect that MANY of the guys who have had success are either young and/or just coming up from the minors, or retreads who happen to hit success (these would be the ones who were available)

example:
Brendon Donnelly - came up to Ana in 2002

Al Levine is a guy who was available prior to the 2003 season. However after a very solid 2003, he has fallen and fallen far.

#43 smastroyin


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 12:27 PM

Delcarmen was walking a few too many guys in Pawtucket while getting regular, normal use. It's a concern and I'm sure Tito has the reports from the FO about Delcarmen's experience in Pawtucket.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


While I understand this and agree, in general the veterans have not been getting the job done. Fearing the worst from the youngsters doesn't seems to be over precautious when you are willing to give innings to the Chad Harville's and Mike Remlinger's of the world.

(please note since I seem to have to repeat this every time I make a comment - I agree with the choice of Timlin if not the timing last night).

#44 FENWAY CHUCK

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 12:46 PM

While I understand this and agree, in general the veterans have not been getting the job done.  Fearing the worst from the youngsters doesn't seems to be over precautious when you are willing to give innings to the Chad Harville's and Mike Remlinger's of the world.

(please note since I seem to have to repeat this every time I make a comment - I agree with the choice of Timlin if not the timing last night).

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


I agree Timlin should have closed the game....

Just not come in with runners on base.....
and why not use HANSEN of the 95+ fastball immediately following the knuckler?

It just seems to make sense to me, that since Timlin allows such a high percentage of inheritted runners to score.... and this KID has been lights out.... that we could have asked him to be a OOGY for the night, and get the third out of the inning.

Imagine, being used to hitting Mr 64MPH knuckler all night and having 95+ fastballs and 86+ sliders coiming your way.

To me it makes all the sense in the world to have given the kid the chance to do that.
We do expect him to be a relied upon part of the bullpen next year right?
He was the closer in college right?
He was the closer in AA right?
He had a great first (3-out) appearance right?
He would be following such a different style of pitcher... right?

It made all the sense in the world!

I would have had Hansen get the 3rd out of the inning (hopefully with the lead) and brought in Timlin to start the night inning with no one on base he would have been fine.
I sure hope the manager has the Guts enough to use Hansen next year.... without fear that he might implode!

#45 SoxsFans

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 01:05 PM

I couldn't agree more Chuck.....

If the sox are going to make the playoffs and make a run at another title, these kids are going to have to be used because the current group of vets in the pen suck!

Further, I don't think there will be enough "dependable" vets available in the off-season, so in order for 2006 to be a successfull season some of the KIDS are going to have to pan out.

#46 Smiling Joe Hesketh


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 01:11 PM

While I understand this and agree, in general the veterans have not been getting the job done.  Fearing the worst from the youngsters doesn't seems to be over precautious when you are willing to give innings to the Chad Harville's and Mike Remlinger's of the world.

(please note since I seem to have to repeat this every time I make a comment - I agree with the choice of Timlin if not the timing last night).

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I don't think it's fearing the worst from youngsters. Rather, I think it's extreme caution on Tito's part about not ruining their confidence. I have to wonder if L'Affaire Cla weighs on his mind as he decides when to use Delcarmen.

#47 FENWAY CHUCK

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 01:24 PM

I don't think it's fearing the worst from youngsters. Rather, I think it's extreme caution on Tito's part about not ruining their confidence. I have to wonder if L'Affaire Cla weighs on his mind as he decides when to use Delcarmen.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>


Smiling... I thought about that when I said it should have been HANSEN that came in for the last out of the 8th inning last night.
He came off an outstanding appearance, he is used to being a closer, and everyone says he has a ton of poise and confidence.

He should have been FINE to get one out after the knuckler.

Also unless we see what we have now before the off-season, how do we know what to fix before next year.
This board is full of posts talking about players (pitchers) we had before that left and are doing well.

Do we just want to dump the entire BP and get new trash to fill the can? Or do we want to find out what kids can actually make a difference, so we know which parts to fix before next year?

I would hate to decide to replace them all, if that meant Delcarmen, Hansen, Papelbon wasted on the vine when they were ready. Of course we may never ever know if they are ready.

A couple years ago there were reports that several players were offered for Youkillis. I remember reports that an offer was made for B. Lawrence of SD for Youks... another that Peavy was offered for YOUKS and a ML'er... another that the A's were trying to get YOUKS.... I know these may all just have been lies.... but.... JUST WHAT DO WE HAVE IN YOUKS?

We don't know cause we don't let him show us!

I would rather know once and for all are we better to keep him or should we re-sign Mueller + GRAFF? I would rather know before we let him go like that one guy we let go years ago... some ML 3B... all singles no power.... never would amount to anything.... Damned what was his name? Oh yeah Bagwell! Now we truly do not know what hole if any YOUKS can fill.

At some point the momma bird pushes her chicks out of the nest to see if they will fly. More often than not they do! How about a little push for our little Chickadees so we can see if this team can soar into the playoffs this year and in years to come.

#48 Todd Benzinger

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 05:00 PM

Cla was a risky, but not a foolish concept. What would be foolish is if that "mistake" influenced Tito not to use other pitchers in optimal fashion later.

#49 FredLynnsGlove

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Posted 22 September 2005 - 05:37 PM

Count me in the "where the hell was Hansen" crowd. His 97 mph heat after Wakes butterfly knuckler sounded like a great combo- especailly with men on base.

Has Tito not noticed Timlins numbers with guys on base? I almost threw the remote thru the TV last bight when he came in, and than again while he was shitting the bed.

#50 Clears Cleaver


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Posted 22 September 2005 - 06:03 PM

After reading this thread, it confirms that this front office really has no clue how to build a pitching staff or acquire cheap effective pitchers.

Bronson Arroyo and....? That's the list of three years worth of pitchers who have been acquired via free agency or trade who have consistently pitched above their cost to the team. That sucks. The staff that won in 2003 and 2004 was largely a product of the Duquette administration. The 2005 staff is largely the result of the Epstein administration.

It is pretty damn easy to use statistics to predict hitters' forward, much harder with pitchers. And this front office has proven that. Can we maybe change up the way we look at pitchers going forward? What teams have been effective at discovering or drafting good arms...Minnesota? Anaheim? I am asking. what do they do?