Building a Bullpen, 2019 edition

Danny_Darwin

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(I know there's already an omnibus offseason thread, but I figured this will be a big topic for discussion - feel free to delete/merge if it is deemed redundant)

Judging from what I've heard and seen here and elsewhere so far, the consensus seems to be that Kimbrel will get a qualifying offer and then leave for a big(ger) deal somewhere else. I think I agree. Most here, at least, seem like they're okay with this development.

I think I would be, too. But still, I ask: if not Kimbrel, then who? And if Joe Kelly leaves, that's another spot in the pen that needs to be filled. The options would look something like this...

Re-sign Kimbrel. I don't want to sound like I'm discounting this possibility! But I wouldn't count on it.

Promote from within. A Kimbrel- and Kelly-free pen would probably be something like Barnes, Brasier, Hembree, Workman, Thornburg, and Poyner, with guys like Travis Lakins and maybe even Durbin Feltman joining at some point (and surely I'm forgetting some options, too). Maybe good, but a lot of question marks. People were not confident in this group before the playoffs started.

Go out and sign a Proven Closer. Non-Kimbrel options include Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Zach Britton, Jeurys Familia, Kelvin Herrera, David Robertson, and a few guys with injury- or performance-related question marks.

Go out and trade for a Proven Closer. I don't know that the team has the prospect capital necessary to pull off this year's equivalent of the Kimbrel trade. Looking at the list of potential rentals, and I don't see an obvious match. Dombrowski's track record on acquiring bullpen pieces this way is mixed at best (though, in fairness, the same could be said for most MLB GMs).

Sign/trade for a less-heralded reliever with the goal of giving him most of the high-leverage innings.
This was once a smart cost-saving measure for savvy GMs, but in the current version of MLB, I'm not sure it's possible to find a hidden-gem type out there. Adam Ottavino is probably going to get paid handsomely, for instance.

Grab a bunch of cheap, fungible guys and let Cora sort it out. I imagine they will grab one or two pitchers matching this description (Rosenthal?), but I would be surprised if this was the only thing they do.

What say the rest of you?
 

bohous

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Joakim Soria just declined his $10m player option with the Brewers, so add him to the list.

If you had asked me last week I probably would have said its time to move on from Kimbrel but in retrospect, the guy had a great year overall. I'm not sure I want to go more than a year or 2 at most with the older guys (Miller, Robertson, Soria) and I'm sure they each get multi-year deals. I would consider the QO to Kimbrel. If he declines then wait out that Proven Closer list and see if you can snag one of those guys on a team friendly deal.

Edit: NM
 
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JimD

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Give Kimbrel the QO. If he were to take it, that's a good problem to deal with, but otherwise move on.

I'm not sure I go very far to try and re-sign Joe Kelly - just too inconsistent, and you'll be paying a premium based on three weeks of (admittedly spectacular) play.

I'd go into 2019 with Brasier as the closer - I think he's up to the task. Whoever is the closer is probably just keeping the seat warm for Durbin Feltman anyways.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
I would say if there is ever a time to try to make a serious run at bullpen-by-committee, Boston 2019 is it. It's an era of experimentation in pitching staff usage not seen in a generation or more, and Cora has shown a willingness to push the usage envelope. The team clearly believes in him.

The Sox will start 2019 with several guys (Barnes, Brasier, Kelly if they can bring him back, Thornburg and/or Smith if healthy) who have had some success with late, high-leverage innings. They're backed up by a reasonably solid second-tier crew in Hembree, Workman, Velazquez, and possibly one or more of Cuevas/Haley/Shepherd/Walden. There's also Wright, who could end up in either the bullpen or rotation, and Feltman, who will probably start the season in the high minors but seems likely to be in the mix before long. The LHP side is much thinner, but Poyner showed promise this year and Johnson, who has sharp platoon splits, could turn out to be an intriguing LOOGY candidate.

There's good depth there, but no Proven Closer(TM) in the bunch, and really nobody who jumps out as that kind of pitcher.

I'd be really intrigued to see the Sox implement a system where pitchers have overlapping, loosely defined roles that allow the manager to deploy them optimally, rather than stereotypically, according to matchups and game situation. I think this team could pull it off.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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Pass on both- and no QO to Kimbrel.... he might accept and I don’t think it’s a good problem to have.
I’d go with Barnes and Brasier as the anchors. Add Wright and Workman to that mix and it’s a solid core. Feldman in the wings after some AAA time to replace the first shitty BP arm.
These bullpens can and should be built from within.
 

charlieoscar

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Kimbrel's salary with Boston has been $11.25M, $13.25M, $13M from 2016-2018. Given that he amassed 108 saves and 12 wins (8 BSv and 7 losses) in those three years, I'd guess that he will be asking a bit more. However, he will be turning 31 at the end of May and his performance with the Red Sox doesn't match his earlier years with Atlanta, so the question is how much more and for how long a contract will he be asking.

The club needs to start cutting payroll because the penalty for exceeding the luxury tax keeps getting greater (up to 50%) and half of that money is distributed to clubs that don't exceed it. In other words, the more money they pay in tax, the more they help their competitors (including the Yankees).
 

simplicio

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If Eo and Kelly both go, there's a 100mph hole in the variety of looks the bullpen can present, and I feel like that's something worth filling. Can Feltman get there?
 

bankshot1

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Evo has a shot at starter money, so selling him as a closer is probably a non-starter.And the Sox need a RH starter. He may get a 4/60 type deal., but not Porcello dough.

I think Kimbrel is gone.

If Joe K would do a 3 year deal (~21-24M) I'd talk with him.

DD has some work to do.
 

chawson

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Rosenthal reportedly signing with the Nats makes me think it's even likelier Kelly and/or Kimbrel are coming back. Barnes and Brasier sit around 96, but I'd expect DD/Cora would want more high-velo options than that.
 

Rasputin

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Just spend the money. Get two or preferably three of the top relievers, including a lefty. Don't really care which ones.

We have some internal options for contributors but there isn't a single one of them you want to count on to be The Man. We're contending in 2019 at least, and we could very easily have a big drop off if Sale leaves and Price gets old fast. We're not getting below the luxury tax so keep the prospects we can, spend the money on the obvious weakness, and should the bottom fall out in 2020, those relievers will fetch a decent return at the deadline that will hasten the return to glory.
 

OurF'ingCity

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I would say if there is ever a time to try to make a serious run at bullpen-by-committee, Boston 2019 is it. It's an era of experimentation in pitching staff usage not seen in a generation or more, and Cora has shown a willingness to push the usage envelope. The team clearly believes in him.

The Sox will start 2019 with several guys (Barnes, Brasier, Kelly if they can bring him back, Thornburg and/or Smith if healthy) who have had some success with late, high-leverage innings. They're backed up by a reasonably solid second-tier crew in Hembree, Workman, Velazquez, and possibly one or more of Cuevas/Haley/Shepherd/Walden. There's also Wright, who could end up in either the bullpen or rotation, and Feltman, who will probably start the season in the high minors but seems likely to be in the mix before long. The LHP side is much thinner, but Poyner showed promise this year and Johnson, who has sharp platoon splits, could turn out to be an intriguing LOOGY candidate.

There's good depth there, but no Proven Closer(TM) in the bunch, and really nobody who jumps out as that kind of pitcher.

I'd be really intrigued to see the Sox implement a system where pitchers have overlapping, loosely defined roles that allow the manager to deploy them optimally, rather than stereotypically, according to matchups and game situation. I think this team could pull it off.
100% on this bandwagon. It is well known that Kimbrel isn't particularly comfortable doing anything other than pitching in the 9th (and very occasionally 8th) inning. But if he leaves, I can totally see a situation, given how much all the players seem to like and respect Cora, where the remaining relievers all buy in to a free-flowing situation where no one has an assigned role and Cora is free to just put in whoever he thinks gives the Sox the best chance to win any given game.

They probably do need another arm if Kelly leaves, but as noted in the OP there are free agent options and there's a solid chance one or more of those will be able to be had at a relative discount as other relievers get signed, etc. I also wouldn't be shocked if they started the season just with mostly internal guys, see how the first few months of the season play out and then address any weaknesses via trade (although that strategy bears some risk since, as has been noted, the prospect cupboard is growing increasingly bare and the few prospects they do have they likely want to keep).
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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Just spend the money. Get two or preferably three of the top relievers, including a lefty. Don't really care which ones.

We have some internal options for contributors but there isn't a single one of them you want to count on to be The Man. We're contending in 2019 at least, and we could very easily have a big drop off if Sale leaves and Price gets old fast. We're not getting below the luxury tax so keep the prospects we can, spend the money on the obvious weakness, and should the bottom fall out in 2020, those relievers will fetch a decent return at the deadline that will hasten the return to glory.
Entirely disappointed that you left out ‘the goal is to win as many rings as you can before you die’ ;)

But I’m fully agreed here. No more prospects (not that we have any); just spend and try to repeat. It’s ain’t our money. And I’m sorry, as great as Brasier looked at times, I don’t feel great about a journeyman closer. I’m not handing him the ninth. Nor Barnes. Nor Kelly.

We often have such short term memories when looking back on parade day.
 

chawson

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If money is an issue, let Kimbrel and Kelly go and sign Miller or Britton. Use ST to figure out who closes and who gets high leverage set up work.
I’m not sure I saw enough from Britton to think he’s the same guy. That sinker’s not hitting 98 anymore.
 

BornToRun

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I’m not sure I saw enough from Britton to think he’s the same guy. That sinker’s not hitting 98 anymore.
The bullpen could use a lefty. I’d love for us to check up on Miller or Britton but if they prove to be too expensive, Oliver Perez is a free agent and had an excellent 2018 campaign.
 

InsideTheParker

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I'm not sure I go very far to try and re-sign Joe Kelly - just too inconsistent, and you'll be paying a premium based on three weeks of (admittedly spectacular) play.
Depends on the price. Speaking of which, everyone is ready to believe that Price has turned some page and will even be able to defeat the NYY now, but no one thinks that's possible with Kelly? He was amazing in the playoffs, and he may be able to lock down that approach going forward.
 

BornToRun

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Depends on the price. Speaking of which, everyone is ready to believe that Price has turned some page and will even be able to defeat the NYY now, but no one thinks that's possible with Kelly? He was amazing in the playoffs, and he may be able to lock down that approach going forward.
Well Price has a track record of success that always suggested he was capable of doing what he did this October. Kelly doesn’t really have that.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have Joe back in the fold but he’s certainly been an up and down performer since we acquired him. He was utterly dominant during the playoffs and that could drive up the price to a point where the Sox and other posters wouldn’t feel comfortable paying it. I hope Playoff Joe Kelly is the normal Joe Kelly going forward and he remains a member of the Red Sox but neither of those things is a certainty.
 

chawson

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The bullpen could use a lefty. I’d love for us to check up on Miller or Britton but if they prove to be too expensive, Oliver Perez is a free agent and had an excellent 2018 campaign.
Absolutely, I’m just not sure that it needs to be the 9th inning guy. A couple million for Perez, Diekman or Sipp would suit me. I can see Miller bouncing back too, but imagine Britton’s gonna want closer money and closer responsibilities.
 
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Minneapolis Millers

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Absolutely, I’m just not sure that it needs to be the 9th inning guy. A couple million for Perez, Diekman or Sipp would suit me. I can see Miller bouncing back too, but imagine Britton’s gonna want closer money and closer responsibilities.
What he wants and what he gets are two different things. Nobody's giving him Wade Davis money. He sets his sights lower or takes a pillow K.
 

Green Monster

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The bullpen could use a lefty. I’d love for us to check up on Miller or Britton but if they prove to be too expensive, Oliver Perez is a free agent and had an excellent 2018 campaign.
Miller, Perez, and another LHP who might make sense is Sean Doolittle. 45IP, 60K, 1.60era, .60 whip, 25 sv
 

Rasputin

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Entirely disappointed that you left out ‘the goal is to win as many rings as you can before you die’ ;)
I almost did, but I figured it was implied.

But I’m fully agreed here. No more prospects (not that we have any); just spend and try to repeat. It’s ain’t our money. And I’m sorry, as great as Brasier looked at times, I don’t feel great about a journeyman closer. I’m not handing him the ninth. Nor Barnes. Nor Kelly.

We often have such short-term memories when looking back on parade day.
Brasier and Barnes are perfectly cromulent bullpen arms. As are Brian Johnson, Hector Velazquez, and like a half a dozen other guys. We're not in a position to trust games to guys who are perfectly cromulent or who might turn in outstanding seasons. We need to look for and sign guys who more than just *might* turn in outstanding seasons. They might not work out. They might shit the bet totally and cost us a jillion fucking dollars. I don't care. This is the best this team has ever been in over a goddamn century of existence and it's the job of management to extend that window as long as is reasonably possible. There's a simple recipe for extending it in 2019 and that's get a goddamn kick ass bullpen so let's go get a kickass bullpen and start kicking some ass.

Depends on the price. Speaking of which, everyone is ready to believe that Price has turned some page and will even be able to defeat the NYY now, but no one thinks that's possible with Kelly? He was amazing in the playoffs, and he may be able to lock down that approach going forward.
Everything's possible and if the money works out, I'm totally cool with Kelly coming back. I just don't want him to be the best guy we sign.
100 wins is not . . .
...the goal anymore.

The goal is to win the World Series as many times as possible before you die.

You're welcome, Pap.

We gotta fucking zero in like a goddamn terminator on this shit. We have an outstanding team with one clear weakness. Deal with the goddamn weakness even if it means all our flesh gets burned off and we're walking liquid metal men all season. I mean, shit's gotta get done.
 

charlieoscar

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Lefty? Wonder how soon Darwinson Hernandez will be ready. He's turning 22 mid-Dec., and began his pro career in 2014.

2016 in NYP--10.8 K/IP
2017 in Low A--10.1 K/IP
2018 in High A (and 6.0 IP in AA)--10.4 K/IP
2018 in AFL--18.0 K/IP (9.0 IP)
6'2"/245
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
Brasier and Barnes are perfectly cromulent bullpen arms. As are Brian Johnson, Hector Velazquez, and like a half a dozen other guys. We're not in a position to trust games to guys who are perfectly cromulent or who might turn in outstanding seasons. We need to look for and sign guys who more than just *might* turn in outstanding seasons.
Sure-thing relievers are not quite unicorns, but they're damn close. You could probably count all the closers that you could have acquired in mid-career with absolute confidence that they would not blow up on you in the history of baseball on your two hands, and possibly have a few fingers left. Relievers are ephemeral; even the very good ones, with rare exceptions, are prone to mysterious dips and detours and flameouts. The guy we're talking about replacing is actually one of the best ever -- and we don't want to pay him, because we've just seen how maddeningly inconsistent he can be.

You look at the great bullpens of recent years, and with very few exceptions they are not built by acquiring big-ticket, sure-thing, mid-career free agents. They're built from live arms that were developed in-house or picked up at reasonable terms because undervalued or coming off down years, that the club found the right roles for. That's how you do it. We have the talent, especially if Kelly returns. We just need to find the right roles for people.
 

SirPsychoSquints

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Recent high dollar free agent reliever signings:
  1. 2018 Wade Davis, 3/52 - Rockies are probably happy
  2. 2017 Aroldis Chapman, 5/86 - This has largely panned out so far
  3. 2017 Kenley Jansen, 5/80 - Absent post-season struggles, yes
  4. 2017 Mark Melancon, 4/62 - Unsurprisingly not worth it
A few years prior, you're looking at Papelbon, Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Francisco Cordero.

Kimbrel might have been on this list, except he was arb-eligible.

I'd suggest that the recent high-dollar contracts have given the teams what they're looking for, and that our impressions otherwise are, perhaps, a few years out of date.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
Recent high dollar free agent reliever signings:
  1. 2018 Wade Davis, 3/52 - Rockies are probably happy
Why? Because he got 43 saves? He also had a 4.13 ERA and a 3.65 FIP. They probably could have gotten those numbers for a lot less money, even in Denver. Davis was, by WAR and other measures, the third-best reliever in that bullpen. His season was pretty similar to Kelly's, and not as good as Barnes' or Brasier's. So this kind of makes my point.

It's true that the Yankees have nothing to complain about with Chapman yet, but there are still three years left on that very expensive contract.

Jansen didn't just struggle in the postseason this year. He had a pretty meh regular-season record, and like Davis was not the best reliever on his team, or even the second best.
 

joe dokes

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Why? Because he got 43 saves? He also had a 4.13 ERA and a 3.65 FIP. They probably could have gotten those numbers for a lot less money, even in Denver. Davis was, by WAR and other measures, the third-best reliever in that bullpen. His season was pretty similar to Kelly's, and not as good as Barnes' or Brasier's. So this kind of makes my point.

It's true that the Yankees have nothing to complain about with Chapman yet, but there are still three years left on that very expensive contract.

Jansen didn't just struggle in the postseason this year. He had a pretty meh regular-season record, and like Davis was not the best reliever on his team, or even the second best.
Relief pitchers -- and especially "proven closers" always seemed to me like the Boardwalk and Park Place of talent acquisition.
 

Rasputin

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Sure-thing relievers are not quite unicorns, but they're damn close. You could probably count all the closers that you could have acquired in mid-career with absolute confidence that they would not blow up on you in the history of baseball on your two hands, and possibly have a few fingers left. Relievers are ephemeral; even the very good ones, with rare exceptions, are prone to mysterious dips and detours and flameouts. The guy we're talking about replacing is actually one of the best ever -- and we don't want to pay him, because we've just seen how maddeningly inconsistent he can be.

You look at the great bullpens of recent years, and with very few exceptions they are not built by acquiring big-ticket, sure-thing, mid-career free agents. They're built from live arms that were developed in-house or picked up at reasonable terms because undervalued or coming off down years, that the club found the right roles for. That's how you do it. We have the talent, especially if Kelly returns. We just need to find the right roles for people.
Yeah, I don't think I said anything about "sure thing" anything. Besides, unicorns will gore you and eat your heart before spewing hallucinogenic goo all over you.

I'm looking for guys who are more likely to be really good than they are to be bad, and I want three of them because I'm expecting one to be bad.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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The wrong side of the bridge....
Yeah, I don't think I said anything about "sure thing" anything.
I was responding to this:

Brasier and Barnes are perfectly cromulent bullpen arms. As are Brian Johnson, Hector Velazquez, and like a half a dozen other guys. We're not in a position to trust games to guys who are perfectly cromulent or who might turn in outstanding seasons. We need to look for and sign guys who more than just *might* turn in outstanding seasons.
Ultimately, anything that's not a sure thing is just some degree or other of "might". And so the guys who actually fit the bolded statement are the near-unicorns I was referring to.

Put it this way: by the time a pitcher has established, through repeated outstanding performance over multiple seasons, that they are an elite reliever, they are already entering the twilight zone where they are increasingly likely to sprout an injury or mysterious downturn.

Here's a short quiz:

Question 1: Over the two years 2015-2016, how many ML relief pitchers amassed at least 120 innings with a FIP- under 80?

23

Question 2: How many did the same thing over the two years since?

18

Question 3: How many of them are the same people?

5

Bonus Question: Are any of the pitchers in the answer to question 2 currently under the control of the Red Sox?

Yes, Matt Barnes
 

SouthernBoSox

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I was responding to this:



Ultimately, anything that's not a sure thing is just some degree or other of "might". And so the guys who actually fit the bolded statement are the near-unicorns I was referring to.

Put it this way: by the time a pitcher has established, through repeated outstanding performance over multiple seasons, that they are an elite reliever, they are already entering the twilight zone where they are increasingly likely to sprout an injury or mysterious downturn.

Here's a short quiz:

Question 1: Over the two years 2015-2016, how many ML relief pitchers amassed at least 120 innings with a FIP- under 80?

23

Question 2: How many did the same thing over the two years since?

18

Question 3: How many of them are the same people?

5

Bonus Question: Are any of the pitchers in the answer to question 2 currently under the control of the Red Sox?

Yes, Matt Barnes
Thank you for this post.

The ONE downside going into the playoffs was the bullpen.

It was basically a microcosm of regular season bullpen variance. I mean, we are talking about Ryan Braiser being a set up guy next season and feeling pretty good about it. Think about that. Dumping money in a pen is almost never a good idea.
 

catomatic

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Ryan Brasier represents a small bit of serendipitous good fortune offsetting the mountain of crap luck, shitty trades, questionable draft picks and untimely injuries in the Boston pen dating back, in my mind, to the Craig Hansen days. Hideki was another offset, as was Koji, obviously, but there's been a lot of unmet expectations in pen construction and getting the human four-leaf clover that was Ryan Brasier in 2018 means the universe does seek balance...
 

nvalvo

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Lefty? Wonder how soon Darwinson Hernandez will be ready. He's turning 22 mid-Dec., and began his pro career in 2014.

2016 in NYP--10.8 K/IP
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2018 in AFL--18.0 K/IP (9.0 IP)
6'2"/245

First video I'd seen of Darwinzon. He sure looks the part.

Edited to add: That said, if that slider is an actual third pitch for Hernández, and reports have him sitting high nineties, is he maybe a candidate for the rotation, not the pen?
 

bosox79

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Edited to add: That said, if that slider is an actual third pitch for Hernández, and reports have him sitting high nineties, is he maybe a candidate for the rotation, not the pen?
He would be a candidate for the rotation in a year or two. He could be a potential option for the bullpen this season. Whether he sticks in the rotation or not depends a lot on his control and secondary pitches.
 

The Mort Report

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I feel like the deal with the pitching market, especially relief, today is you can’t find that gem or reclamation project nearly as easily anymore. There are fewer contenders and more rebuilders, and the average/above average positional player is less likely to be signed by the nots because they don’t make sense because they don’t have future value either as a player or an asset. We saw that with the “middle class” FA market last season. But I would say one of the best uses of funds for a rebuilding/small market team is bullpen arms. While the cost to acquire from 2-3 years ago has gone down, contenders are still giving up premium assets for a RP at the trade deadline because, like people have pointed out, a bullpen is volitile.

So these rebuilders are paying less attention to position players, which in turn makes them cheaper to sign with contenders later in free agency, thus creating less positional holes for the buyers. But if a team like SD can spend one year at 10 mil on a reclamation project, and have it hit, they could possibly get a top 50 prospect for it.

I think the days of cheap, upside bullpen arms are gone
 

Rasputin

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I was responding to this:

Ultimately, anything that's not a sure thing is just some degree or other of "might". And so the guys who actually fit the bolded statement are the near-unicorns I was referring to.

Put it this way: by the time a pitcher has established, through repeated outstanding performance over multiple seasons, that they are an elite reliever, they are already entering the twilight zone where they are increasingly likely to sprout an injury or mysterious downturn.
I wasn't bitching, I was clarifying. And sure, everyone's a "might" but there's a hell of a lot of difference between a 30% to pan out guy and a 70% to pan out guy. I mean, it's opening day next year, the Sox have a two-run lead on the Mariners at goddamit-why-the-fuck-are-we-opening-on-the-west-coast o'clock in the morning and here comes the ninth inning. You know nothing of what transpires between now and then. Who are you trusting the ninth inning to? A guy like Matt Barnes who has been in the majors as a full-time reliever for three years and who has steadily improved or a guy who had a better season by many measures than Matt Barnes, but who spent the first half of the year in the minors and didn't get signed until March after spending time in Japan?

Both guys "might" be really good in the upcoming season, but if I've got a game to save with no more information than we have now, I'm picking the guy with a track record of major league success. It won't always work out because that's fucking baseball, but that's the way to bet.

It was basically a microcosm of regular season bullpen variance. I mean, we are talking about Ryan Braiser being a setup guy next season and feeling pretty good about it. Think about that. Dumping money in a pen is almost never a good idea.
Yeah, to win the World Series you have to be good enough to get to the post-season and lucky enough to win once you're there. We got lucky with our relievers in October, no question.

I'm not sure you can still say pouring money into the bullpen is usually a bad idea. Not anymore.

But let me come at this from a different direction. At how many positions can the Red Sox reasonably expect to improve in 2019?

I think it's reasonable to think that Rafael Devers will be better at third just due to maturity. Same for Andrew Benintendi I think it's reasonable to expect that the Sox will get more out of second base just because they have a better handle on the Pedroia situation. I think there's almost a decent chance the Sox bring in an offensive-minded backup catcher that improves overall performance there a bit.

But shortstop, center, right, and first are pretty much going to be the same guys we've got now. Maybe they have better seasons, but maybe they don't.

The rotation is going to be Sale, Price, Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez and someone else. Maybe Rodriguez can take a step forward in performance, but if the Sox get more from these guys it's mostly due to better health.

So what are the things the Sox can actually do in the off-season to improve? Find a better backup plan at second base. Make sure we enter the season with a better platoon partner for Moreland than Hanley Ramirez, and bring in multiple good bullpen arms. I think it's clear that the bullpen is the biggest opportunity, especially when you consider that we've got two guys who can leave.
 

Savin Hillbilly

loves the secret sauce
SoSH Member
Jul 10, 2007
18,392
The wrong side of the bridge....
Both guys "might" be really good in the upcoming season, but if I've got a game to save with no more information than we have now, I'm picking the guy with a track record of major league success. It won't always work out because that's fucking baseball, but that's the way to bet.
I'm not sure it is, though. Every Proven Closer® was once not a proven closer. Some team with a new hole in that slot picked out a talented reliever on their staff, said "We think he can do that job," gave him a shot, and enjoyed the results. The only exceptions are guys who are given the closer job right out of the minors, and I think that's still more the exception than the rule.

The question is, who has the better 2-3 year track record: newly promoted closers, or newly signed free agent closers? I'd put my money on the answer being "A", though I don't have time to do the research right now.
 

chawson

Member
Aug 1, 2006
1,634
The top three free agent pitchers listed by average fastball velocity are:

1. Kelly (98.1)
2. Eovaldi (97.2)
3. Kimbrel (97.1)

Adding Brasier (96.9) to the mix last year certainly helped. I'd say DD might be unwilling to lose this much velo in the bullpen, but maybe they think Feltman is close.
 

simplicio

Well-Known Member
Gold Supporter
Apr 11, 2012
1,342
Also Hernandez:
Watching Darwinzon Hernandez' 98 4-seamer and backdoor slider in the AFL allstar game last night makes one wonder if the Red Sox will have him in a 3-inning relief or opener role by August
 

mfried

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 23, 2005
1,535
I wasn't bitching, I was clarifying. And sure, everyone's a "might" but there's a hell of a lot of difference between a 30% to pan out guy and a 70% to pan out guy. I mean, it's opening day next year, the Sox have a two-run lead on the Mariners at goddamit-why-the-fuck-are-we-opening-on-the-west-coast o'clock in the morning and here comes the ninth inning. You know nothing of what transpires between now and then. Who are you trusting the ninth inning to? A guy like Matt Barnes who has been in the majors as a full-time reliever for three years and who has steadily improved or a guy who had a better season by many measures than Matt Barnes, but who spent the first half of the year in the minors and didn't get signed until March after spending time in Japan?

Both guys "might" be really good in the upcoming season, but if I've got a game to save with no more information than we have now, I'm picking the guy with a track record of major league success. It won't always work out because that's fucking baseball, but that's the way to bet.



Yeah, to win the World Series you have to be good enough to get to the post-season and lucky enough to win once you're there. We got lucky with our relievers in October, no question.

I'm not sure you can still say pouring money into the bullpen is usually a bad idea. Not anymore.

But let me come at this from a different direction. At how many positions can the Red Sox reasonably expect to improve in 2019?

I think it's reasonable to think that Rafael Devers will be better at third just due to maturity. Same for Andrew Benintendi I think it's reasonable to expect that the Sox will get more out of second base just because they have a better handle on the Pedroia situation. I think there's almost a decent chance the Sox bring in an offensive-minded backup catcher that improves overall performance there a bit.

But shortstop, center, right, and first are pretty much going to be the same guys we've got now. Maybe they have better seasons, but maybe they don't.

The rotation is going to be Sale, Price, Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez and someone else. Maybe Rodriguez can take a step forward in performance, but if the Sox get more from these guys it's mostly due to better health.

So what are the things the Sox can actually do in the off-season to improve? Find a better backup plan at second base. Make sure we enter the season with a better platoon partner for Moreland than Hanley Ramirez, and bring in multiple good bullpen arms. I think it's clear that the bullpen is the biggest opportunity, especially when you consider that we've got two guys who can leave.
I have a pitching suggestion regarding rotation and bullpen that takes Cora’s flexibility further:
Role a; ace reliever occasionally closing occasionally high leverage late inning or two.
Role b; excellent starter held to six innings except for no-hitters
Practitioners; Sale in role b first 45-60% of the season then shifting to role a; this is Tito’s Andrew Miller role.
Eovaldi in inverse role; relieving first 45-60%, then starting. This would satisfy a hefty salary.
Comments?
 

nvalvo

Well-Known Member
Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
16,710
Rogers Park
Any interest in Jeurys Familia?

High-K (26%), high-GB (51%) relief pitcher. Health issues and a domestic violence suspension are in his past. Kiley McDaniel expects 2/$22.
 

chawson

Member
Aug 1, 2006
1,634
I don't know what the Reds want to do but several members of their bullpen I'd be interested in. Raisel Iglesias of course, but also Amir Garrett and David Hernandez. They'll likely shop Scooter this winter (or should?), which means they could be interested in Nunez as a $1/5M stopgap until prospect Shed Long is ready (likely midsummer). Nunez is next to worthless on his own, but I'd see if something like Nunez/Dalbec/Johnson could bring back Garrett.
 

BaseballJones

goalpost mover
SoSH Member
Oct 1, 2015
6,364
I know most of us expect Kimbrel to be gone. But I just want to express my admiration for the guy. Shaky in the playoffs, yes. Tipping his pitches? Maybe. Did he struggle this year? Yes. For HIM. By HIS standards.

Here's the list of MLB relievers in 2018 that pitched 60+ innings, compiled 40+ saves, had a sub-1.00 whip, a sub-2.75 era, and a > 13.5 k/9:

Kimbrel, Bos: 62.1 ip, 42 sv, 0.99 whip, 2.74 era, 13.9 k/9

That's the list in its entirety. Lots of innings. Relatively low era for a closer (not his best but still not bad), extremely high K rate (again, not his best, but really good), low whip, and even though I don't love this statistic, lots of saves, meaning he slammed the door a lot.

He wasn't the *best* reliever in MLB this past season, not at all. But for a "down" year, he was still pretty damned good. Replacing that won't likely be easy.
 

Plympton91

bubble burster
SoSH Member
Oct 19, 2008
12,087
After his October, I would not go anywhere near Kimbrel. Let someone else buy the risk at free agent premiums that something is wrong. He looked like Daniel Bard in September 2011.

Kelly was very good last October, started out well this season, had a glitch, and ended pitching better than he ever has. As long as they know the reason for that glitch, I would be ok paying him multiple years at market rate for a veteran healthy and effective middle reliever. That would be about 3 years, $21 million or so. Something like the Joe Smith contract (2/$15).

I would go full bore after Ottavino to close. Pitchers escaping Coors already intact are a good investment.

After that, leave Barnes where he is, don’t count on Brasier to be more than he was (4th option) and enjoy the upside if he is. Then find guys who are failed starters with good fastballs and hold tryouts for the 11th and 12th spots through Memorial Day. Velazquez still has and option remaining.
 
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chawson

Member
Aug 1, 2006
1,634
I would go full bore after Ottavino to close. Pitchers escaping Coors already intact are a good investment.
Curious, who do you have in mind here? I also like Ottavino as a target, but I can only think of Pomeranz and maybe Huston Street as guys who fit this definition over the last decade or so.