Another guy completely asleep at the wheel, somnambulant, with wisps he's overheard here and there finally giving him the picture. He's still way behind, just realizing the story of 1996--10 years ago. This guy, Rick Freeman, says:
"In the old days, you knew a team which was forced to use its bullpen wasn't very good. A manager who had to make calls to his relief corps early and often obviously was afflicted with poor starting pitching and a losing team, as well.
That was borne out to some extent in 2006, as the top three teams in bullpen innings -- Kansas City, Washington and the Chicago Cubs -- brought up the rear of their respective divisions. Royals relievers pitched 40.5 percent of their team's innings, while the Cubs' pen pitched 39.1 percent and the Nationals' 38.8.
However, to perhaps amplify how much the game has changed,"
- What is it, Rick, that caused this "change" which you peg to 1996 and continues through today, 2/4/07, more than 10 YEARS? YOU AND YOUR PALS WILL NEVER SAY IT, BECAUSE HIS TEAM DIDN'T WRITE A CLAUSE ABOUT BBWAA AWARDS IN HIS CONTRACT UNLIKE OTHER TEAMS SUCH AS BOSTON, MINNESOTA, LA ANGELS, ETC. AND WITHOUT AWARDS, WHAT ARE YOU GUYS, RICK? Getting back to your article in the Trenton Times,
"five of the next seven ranked teams in bullpen innings are clubs which reached the postseason in 2006. The Mets bullpen ranked fourth, getting 1,628 (37.1 percent) of the team's 4,384 outs. The Dodgers, Yankees, Minnesota, San Diego and St. Louis all had percentages higher than 34 percent of their outs coming from relief arms.
- One of the transaction areas an astute observer will look at when evaluating his or her favorite team's offseason moves is how the "bridge" is built from a starting pitcher to the closer. It was often said of Joe Torre's Yankees team a few years ago that they made it a six-inning game -- if the opposition couldn't get the lead after six innings, the game was over, because Torre, in 1996, would run in Jeff Nelson and Mariano Rivera to get to closer John Wetteland. Beginning the next season, when Rivera was moved to the back of the bullpen, Mike Stanton and Ramiro Mendoza were added to the mix, making the Yankees even more formidable"
Rick, I must tear myself away fron your teaching, your wisdom. RIVERA BECAME BOTH THE CLOSER AND THE SET UP MAN BLAZING A NEW ERA IN LATE INNING RELIEF. SOME PEOPLE KNOW THIS, AND HAVE STARTED HIRING AND USING THEIR GUYS IN A SIMILAR WAY. YOU MAY HAVE HEARD OF BJ RYAN, FRANKIE RODRIGUEZ, BILLIE WAGNER, KEITH FOULKE, JON PAPELBON, ETC. SOMETIMES THESE OTHER GUYS DON'T MAKE IT, BUT THEY TRY. Back to your cave, Rick:
- The Mets last year used the same formula, getting serviceable innings from a starting pitcher and then running in a lights-out setup contingent which led to closer Billy Wagner. The importance the brain trust put in the bullpen was demonstrated near the end of spring training, when it was decided that Aaron Heilman, who most believe would be a better-than-average major-league starter, was slotted into a setup role in order to strengthen the bridge to Wagner."
(Rick doesn't mention specifically how Wagner was used--)
"The Twins had perhaps the best bullpen in baseball last year, with situational pitchers -- lefty Dennys Reyes (0.89 ERA) and right-hander Joe Neshek (2.19) -- leading to hard-throwing setup men -- Juan Rincon (2.91) and Jesse Crain (3.52) -- leading to the closer -- Joe Nathan (36 saves, 1.58 ERA). It may be blasphemous, but there are some baseball people who believe Nathan has surpassed Rivera as the best closer in the game today."
- Blasphemous? Who ever said Rivera was the best closer in the game today? He's never come close to winning a BBWAA award in 12 consecutive regular seasons AND 12 CONSECUTIVE POST SEASONS WHICH YOU AND YOUR PALS IGNORE. ESPN DOES NOTHING BUT MINIMIZE RIVERA AND ELEVATE ANYONE ELSE THEY CAN, SO WHY WOULD YOU OR ANYONE ELSE THINK RIVERA WAS ANYTHING SPECIAL? AND WHY DON'T YOU EXPAND ON YOUR OMINOUS STATEMENT ABOUT "SOME BASEBALL PEOPLE." WHO EXACTLY IS A 'BASEBALL PERSON?' GIVE ME A FREEKING BREAK, FOR GOD'S SAKE. YOU AND YOUR SECRET, ALL KNOWING "BASEBALL PEOPLE"--IF THEY EXIST--ARE SMALL-MINDED, AGENDA DRIVEN POLITICIANS. PLEASE. Now, time for all of us dumb bastards to get back to the wisdom of Rick Freeman:
"Detroit's surprising success last year had much to do with new manager Jim Leyland, but also plenty of credit has to go the bullpen, where smoke-throwers Joel Zumaya and Fernando Rodney paved the way to Todd Jones, whose, shall we say, softer approach was a tough-to-adjust-to dilemma for hitters.
- St. Louis, as we all remember, made a memorable postseason run in large part because of a bullpen which allowed one earned run in 29 innings. The Cardinals have Albert Pujols and a wonderful defense, but the ability to get the last 9-12 outs unscathed is the difference between hoisting the championship trophy and waiting until next year."
WOW, YOU'RE A GENIUS, FREEMAN. MAYBE YOU'LL GET INTO THE WRITERS WING OF THE HOF FOR GOD'S SAKE.
"For a high-octane bullpen, look no further than the south side of Chicago, where the White Sox fea ture power arms like right-handers Bobby Jenks, Mike MacDougal and David Aardsma, and southpaws Matt Thornton and Andrew Sisco. The Sox won the World Series in 2005 with a bullpen in which every member threw gas; the Sox are going with that formula again.
An underrated bullpen to watch this year is in Milwaukee, where closer Francisco Cordero is fronted by mid-90s throwers Jose Capellan and Derrick Turnbow, and specialists Matt Wise and Brian Shouse. The Mets feel they've improved their pen with the addition of lefty Scott Schoeneweis and hard- throwing but erratic Ambiorix Burgos, while Atlanta, as noted here two weeks ago, vastly improved their bridge to closer Bob Wickman by adding power arms Mike Gon zalez and Rafael Soriano. The Angels strengthened their bullpen by acquiring Justin Speier, who teamed with Scot Shields will be excellent setup men for closer Francisco Rodriguez.
Meanwhile, would-be contend ers like the Phillies (who may use one of their excess starters to obtain a veteran setup man), Boston (no proven closer) and Cleveland (not a hard thrower in the bunch) look solid everywhere but in the bullpen. Surviving today without relief is a pretty treacherous road.
- These aren't the old days anymore."
- Hey, Rickie, you're AT THE BEGINNING OF A LEARNING CURVE. WELCOME ABOARD. Beyond that, you show all the signs of a hack--that's as polite as I can be about you people.
From Trenton Times article by Rick Freeman, 2/4/07, "Building Bridges to
Championships," via NJ.com.