Scott Miller breaks down how replacing K-Rod (traded to Mets) with Brian Fuentes (24 saves – leads the Majors) did not cause the Angels’ bullpen to hold 3rd-to-last place (behind Cleveland and Washington) as of Wednesday 7-8-09.
Mainly, it’s injuries and the unfamiliarity of roles that young pitchers have faced when filling-in for the injured.
-Scot Shields was a key set-up man until knee surgery (left) ended his season in June.
-Jose Arrondondo has elbow inflammation, and has been sent to AAA Salt Lake to work through his turnabout from last year’s impressive debut.
-Darren Oliver and young Kevin Jepsen have been on the DL since April.
“The result was that some relievers pitched out of their roles and some younger arms were pushed, by necessity, into situations they shouldn’t have been in in the first place,” Miller explains. Furthermore, Angels’ starters have struggled, taxing the already-depleted pen. He quotes pitching coach Mike Butcher saying that lack of leadership is not a factor with Fuentes, whose bullpen has had so many challenges to face. He does acknowledge the tremendous confidence that K-Rod’s presence had contributed to the other bullpen pitchers, however, and starter John Lackey referred to an early “‘adjustment period.'”
-Bullpen performance has improved since June 12: 6-1, 10 saves, 2.82 ERA.
-Justin Speier is keeping righties to a 1.64 batting average.
-Jepsen (RHP) has learned a cutter and has shown improvement.
-Jason Bulger (RHP) is young but coming along.
-Darren Oliver is now ok.
Halos bullpen faces critical test down stretch – by Scott Miller – CBSSports.com Baseball
- Greinke wins! He bats 2 for 3 and scores, too! KC vs Florida 9-3
- How cool — in an intra-state interleague ERA staredown in Ohio, Cleveland’s bounding LHP Cliff Lee (6-0.067) faces RHP Edinson Volquez (6-1.112) at Cincinnati.
- Lefty Shawn Estes (1-0, .257) starts his 2nd game since 2006 vs Seattle’s RHP Felix Hernandez (2-4 3.38) at 1:10pm. (His 1st game was his 100th win! May 13, 2008, at Wrigley) He’s a Padre, and that makes me feel good. Did you wonder where he was? As he comes back from a long recovery from Tommy John surgery and works on some of his old trouble spots, I am hoping that being this inspired pitching-focused team — home of former Angels pitching coach Bud Black as Manager and Coach of last year’s MLB-leading pitching staff Darren Balsey — will make his return a welcoming one. Otherwise, maybe Dave Duncan on the Cardinals would be a good match. Not that they can just choose their locations like that. I’ve enjoyed him since his presence on the Mets, where, like Steve Trachsel‘s, his record did not always reflect what happened on field, For awhile the easiest way to keep track of him was to follow Dusty Baker. It was nice to see that.
It even goes beyond retiring as a Yankee. Did you know that Ron Guidry was his idol growing up! Uh, huh! Wait ’til you hear this — in his first MLB start, his opposing pitcher WAS Guidry. Take a look at the symmetry — closing out his career with Guidry as pitching coach?!
And, wasn’t David (David Wells, for those of you whose needs I have rudely ignored) undefeated as a Dodger until this week, when he took care to take LA out of contention himself, in plenty of time to sneak onto our roster?
You know he’ll pitch wherever he’s needed — as a starter, out of the bullpen, whatever. He and Clem could combine for a game. Now that’s symmetry.
Let’s make nice. OK? Please? So little is going well, even in my baseball social life. This bone would make so many dogs happy.
David Wells Loses His Win Again 6IP, 1ER. June 26, 2007
San Diego beat the Giants 2-1, but a blown save by, of all people, the very reliever whose retention he had championed offseason (Scott Linebrink) took away his W. A tightly-pitched game overall, though Wells gave up an unusually high number of walks (3), for him. Maybe it is more accurate to describe it as a tightly-managed pitching game, at least by the Padres, who used 6 pitchers to keep the Giants from scoring more than 1 run in 10 innings The 6th was Trevor Hoffman, who earned his 20th save. Only Zito — who went 8 innings — and Meredith pitched for the Giants, and they kept the Pads to 2 runs in 10. Not bad, eh?
Ever wonder what it’s like being Doug Balsley, the pitching coach for Padres’ manager Bud Black? As pitching coach for the Angels in his previous job, he looked intense and hands-on, if you know what I mean.
**SPECIAL NOTE** I have a bad feeling that Andy Pettitte is going to win the YEAH, YEAH, YEAH Award of the year. Today fit the bill, and I haven’t the heart to explain. If you can stand it, listen to the game, bad umpire calls and all. Calls that favored the Yankees, mind you.
Links to the YES Network’s Jim Kaat Tributes:
Calling It a Career, and more
- When the YES Network booth crowds up with Kay, Kenny, and Oh-Mercer, and you can’t figure out how you could possibly be missing anyone’s voice, it will be Jim "Kitty" Kaat’s that you are straining for. His sharp, well-timed explanations of pitching strategy and execution has reminded us that baseball is a skill and an art to be appreciated, and that we "pay" all these people because they have specialties the others do not know about.
Time to make it formal. Turn the TV volume off. Turn on John and Suzyn on WCBS AM. The timing will be a little off, but we will know the score and get some analysis at least. Suzyn lacks the insight of a player and could use a mentor like Mr. Kaat. Meantime, she out-schools the bunch in the big Yes broadcast box in the sky.
- We’ll miss you, Kitty. Meow, baby, as Kojak would say. Good luck, and please do not be a stranger. Stop by the WCBS booth if you get a chance.
Last time I saw Kris Benson, he lost to Esteban Loaiza on a night I played hooky to see the game with Marc Marc at Shea. September 14, 2005. Inexplicably, the ticket price was $5. I’d have paid a lot more to see this match-up. As he so often has, Benson pitched well until Mets Dementia set in. More about that night can be found here.
Nevertheless, as I feared earlier this off-season, General Manager Omar Minaya has gone ahead and arranged to trade him for a reliever (Jorge Julio, plus a prospect). Floraine Kay suspects this may be another example of his apparent desire to hispanicize the team. The pattern is looking hard to ignore, but I withhold judgement, for now. Offered my choice of Benson, Aaron Heilman, Steve Trachsel, or Victor Zambrano, (all 4 had been rumored as trade bait for this offseason) I, too, might reach for the more promising younger player if I were managing Baltimore. Why Benson — or Heilman or Trachsel, for that matter — would be offered, I can’t quite comprehend, however.
On the other hand, maybe it was a friendly trade, at the management level at least. (Didn’t we all wake up today to the news that Mrs. Benson wasn’t happy about this?) As MLB.com’s Tom Singer points out, former Mets GM Jim Duquette is now working for Baltimore’s Mike Flanagan and, as some of us recall, had made a big trade for him with the Pirates in July of 2004. Apparently he had support from the Orioles’ new star pitching coach. According to Singer , Mazzone had been eying Benson for 3 years, over which time he had seen Benson keep Atlanta’s slugger squad to a batting average of .212. "Mazzone saw a project," Singer reports "and someone who could inject consistency into a volatile rotation that already included Rodrigo Lopez, Bruce Chen, Daniel Cabrera and Erik Bedard."
A great reliever might have been worth a trade for Benson, but I’m disappointed that the Mets seem to have picked up a pitcher whose numbers appear to be on the decline, if only temporarily. I can see wanting to hold onto Heilman to move him back into the rotation from the bullpen, where he was so successfully ghettoized last year. Ah, too familiar are these pre-season Mets Misgivings.