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Thread: Article: Patience with Bullpen is a Must

  1. #1
    Owner MVP Seth Stohs's Avatar
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    Article: Patience with Bullpen is a Must


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    The Twins need two of the above pitchers to step up and that is indeed asking a lot considering the injury problems and lack of experience. My hopes are Kyle Waldrop finally gets a serious look. He was a #1 draft pick in 2004 (25th Overall) and has a 60% groundball rate in the minors. He has been slowed down by injuries and could really be a nice replacement for Matt Guerrier. My best guess is Jared Burton and Jason Bulger make the team out of spring training. They both have good stuff, a nice track record, but can they stay healthy? I'm not very high on Terry Doyle at all. Alex Burnett and Lester Oliveros need more seasoning in the minors before contributing at the Major League Level.
    Last edited by Fanatic Jack; 03-01-2012 at 05:23 AM.

  3. #3
    Twins Moderator All-Star diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
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    bullpens are going to be bad when starts cannot consistently go 6-7 innings. My big issue is that they overpaid for Capps to the tune of a draft pick and several million, and that they didn't go out and pick up another decent arm such as Dan Wheeler on the cheap. I liked the Zumaya deal, but not if it was the only one. I agree that trading is not wise right now, but doing nothing is equally foolish.

  4. #4
    Member Single-A dave_dw's Avatar
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    Love the article. This hits the nail on the head. If you don't have quality, get quantity. The more mediocre options you get the better chance one of them develops into a good option. I'm very interested to see who takes a step forward this year!

  5. #5
    Owner MVP Seth Stohs's Avatar
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    Jared Burton's numbers the last three years he was healthy are much better than Wheeler's the last three years. Bulger's got great strikeout numbers in his MLB and AAA careers. With Waldrop, Gutierrez, Manship, Oliveros and Burnett, there is much more potential than any of the free agents they could ahve signed. Like I said, if they're just going to get average guys, I'd rather give the young guys a shot. If they can get a difference-maker, like Uehara (without giving up the farm!), I'd be in favor.

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    I'm with you on this one. The Twins have actually made some pretty significant 'investments' with a few of these guys--1st round picks for Guty and Waldrop, trades for Oliveros and Guerra , and Capps for that matter. As you've stated before, if the Twins are in contention, they'll definitely go get more bullpen help. If not, these guys can get some low-intensity innings in.

    As far as Capps goes, yeah, an overpay (in hindsight), but I don't think Madson is twice as good or that Papelbon is 3 times as good as Capps. For the Twins, they maybe thought better to go with the devil you know than the devil you don't know.
    And, I know its just me, but I'm tired of hearing how the Twins could've had a different closer + a draft pick. The Twins have five high picks already and will owe over $12 million in signing bonuses, highest in the league.

  7. #7
    Great job Seth! I agree with this 100%. Twins are one of those teams that consistently produce quality bullpen arms. Each year someone steps up or "overachieves" and contributes to an already established bullpen. Last year we didn't have that back bone to go along with Perkins. Gone were Crain and Guerrier. Nathan was hurt, along with everyone else. Hopefully this year 1 or 2 arms will step up and pair that with Perkins, Capps and even Duensing who is great against lefties. We have plenty of arms to choose from in camp, no reason to trade a prospect just as the farm system is heading in the right direction.

  8. #8
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    Thanks Seth for a rational and intelligent look at the bullpen situation. The Twins now have a month to see who amongst this group 'earns that job.'

    Personally, I am having a bit of a rough time with this new site. As you know, I don't care for a lot of the negativism that appears here. Is also tough when one disagrees and is immediately asked to no longer read/comment on certain individuals posts. Think I am going to miss sethspeaks.net, but I certainly understand your motivation for moving here.

  9. #9
    Senior Member All-Star Thrylos's Avatar
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    Totally agree with you Seth. As a matter of fact, when I looked at the Twins' pen situation a couple days ago, what I wrote was very similar.
    (only one detail: Deduno is not a power pitcher, his average fastball is in the high 80s)

    A couple of those players will have break-through STs and break-through seasons. Burnett is due. 3 seasons ago he was brilliant in AA and then rushed to the majors too soon. Hopefully he puts it together this Spring and carries through the seasons. Lots of early acolades about Waldrop's sinker in the camp too. Grey, Vasquez, Burton and Bulger could be the next Guerrier and Reyes. Oliveros has a ton of potential (and the hardest thower among everyone in camp now that Zumaya is done) and he is 24. Interesting group and will be intersting to see them fight for a spot through out the Spring.
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  10. #10
    I just really don't agree they shouldn't have picked up another veteran option in the bullpen. Setting aside pissing away $4M on Matt Capps, they made it clear they were looking for some more help by picking up Zumaya. Which was a smart move, but once you do it, you're saying, yeah, we need more bullpen help, at which point there is simply no conceivable reason not to have grabbed an solid veteran in a buyer's market for peanuts when Zumaya had about a 20% chance of making it through the season.

    Even if you buy the whole "rebuilding, let's raise some players internally" angle, there's no point not to grab a bargain to help avoid an embarrassing season, another of which will hurt fan confidence on the third year of a new stadium, setting up a downward spiral. Not that one bullpen pitcher would make all the difference but it wouldn't hurt. And there would still have been plenty of open spots for internal options.

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    "Even if you buy the whole "rebuilding, let's raise some players internally" angle, there's no point not to grab a bargain to help avoid an embarrassing season, "

    Jeffk, I believe Seth's point is that is what Ryan did, he picked up up a bunch of potential bargains and is hoping/expecting that one or more will come through to fortify the bullpen. The so called bargains available for "peanuts" were almost universally old, coming off of a down year or years, with declining secondary numbers.

    Some of those savvy old vets will likely have good years this coming year. But there is no way to predict which ones, and realistically, there is about as good a chance one of the younger guys Ryan picked up will bounce back to be just as effective. There is also a reasonable chance that one or more of the young guys from the Twins system will be ready at some point this year.

    There also is no particular reason to believe that any of the "bargain" vets wanted to sign with the Twins or would of been willing to sign for bargain prices.

    I don't buy the contention that the Twins can't contend this year, and I expect a quite a bit of change during the season in the bullpen. But, I don't expect the bullpen to be the reason the Twins don't contend this year, if that is what happens.

  12. #12
    This is one of my favorites articles I've read recently, Seth. Your optimism is refreshing, even if it might better be described as an absence of pessimism.

    It's actually a little bittersweet to look back at all the success stories Gardy and Andy to their credit over the past decade. It leaves me wondering, "Where have all the flowers gone?" as this brand of scrappy magic has been distinctly lacking.

  13. #13
    Owner All-Star Parker Hageman's Avatar
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    Solid points Seth. I detailed the same thing last winter (http://overthebaggy.blogspot.com/201...llpen-has.html) after the loss of Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier. The fact is, the Twins have been very good at cobbling together a bullpen in the past decade. I think the Twins have a outstanding core of talent evaluators who missed last yearbut there are plenty of arms in camp that someone should be able to emerge.

  14. #14
    The King In The North All-Star Nick Nelson's Avatar
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    Yes, it is possible and perhaps even probable that one or two guys from this bunch can emerge as legitimate middle relief options. I'm fine with rounding out a bullpen through this avenue, but completely building a bullpen with it is dangerous. The only player in the entire bullpen mix who actually had a successful season in the majors last year was Glen Perkins, and even he lacks the prolonged track record to inspire total confidence. Relievers are always volatile and there are no sure things, but throwing a bunch of mediocrity against the wall and hoping for the best is exactly what led them to the worst bullpen in the league last year.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with suggesting that the Twins would be better served with at least one proven big-league relief arm that doesn't carry enormous question marks.

    Quote Originally Posted by roger View Post
    Is also tough when one disagrees and is immediately asked to no longer read/comment on certain individuals posts.
    I presume this is directed at me. To be clear, I did not ask you to stop reading or commenting on my posts, I simply suggested that you might be better off doing so considering that you seem so sensitive to any vaguely critical analysis. I got accused all the time last offseason of being overly negative -- then the team lost 99 games. Much of the time, what you perceive as negativity is just being realistic. If you find it so offensive, don't read it. That's all I'm saying.

  15. #15
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    Normally I would agree that having 21 average to below average players to fill 3 spots seems like an effective way to build a bullpen until you actually realize that this article brought up a couple of times where its succeeded and neglected to mention the dozens upon dozens of times it doesn't work out. In the end the numbers will say that mediocre picting is mediocre pitching WAY more than it magically turns into good pitching.

    I would add that even if the Twins somehow manage to scape 3 decent guys out of the bunch, the "Top 4" mentioned (Capps, Perkins, Deunsing, and Swarzak) we already members of the worst bullpen in the majors last year. So basically the "plan" was to guarantee these 4 guys who weren't good last year (other than Perkins) get combined with a mixed bag of 3 additional guys from a pool of 21 average to below average pitchers to form an effective bullpen? That's not a proven way to build a winner. Its basically doing the same this that failed last time over and hoping for a different result.

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    "Normally I would agree that having 21 average to below average players to fill 3 spots seems like an effective way to build a bullpen until you actually realize that this article brought up a couple of times where its succeeded and neglected to mention the dozens upon dozens of times it doesn't work out"

    Actually the Twins have used this method for more than 20 years to fill out their bullpen. Throughout the 90's one of the strengths of of those generally weak teams was a strong bullpen. Nearly every year the same method to fill out the bullpen was used. Ryan is not doing something that has failed in the past for him, he is using a many times used method, that has worked far more often than it has failed.

  17. #17
    Guerrier took a full year of repeating AAA for the second time as a starter (and showing improvement in his peripherals) before he was an asset to the MLB bullpen. He was acquired prior to his age 25 season - hardly past the point of no return.

    Reyes had been decent in 2004 before developing extreme control problems in 2005. He had a multi-year track record of good to very great K rates and good groundball rates. His control returned with the Twins and he was effective again.

    Young, failed MLB starters like Guardado and Hawkins and Romero - pitchers once perceived by scouts to have the stuff to succeed as starters, who were accordingly given significant playing time by their big league clubs as starters - regularly turn into effective bullpen arms. This is a truism.

    And Guardado pretty much just sucked for two full seasons after going to the bullpen, had a good season, then posted mediocre peripherals for a looong time. It was 2001 - 7 years after his second failed starting stint - before he became a reliable, effective guy.

    Breslow had fantastic K rates and was effective overall in both 2006 and 2007 at Pawtucket and with the Red Sox.

    Willis is one guy for whom there is no blueprint: his minor league journeyman time between 88 and 91 looks like just that: a guy who wasn't even AAAA. His peripherals with the Twins FAR outstrip anything he'd done the last two years in AAA. Presumably they saw something they thought they could fix and did so. Or he juiced or something. That one's a stumper.

    My question is: what do you see as the analogs to these guys among this year's crop, and how does the fact that some of the historical guys succeeded only after significant time had passed help assuage naysayers of the off-season bullpen handling? Understand, I have NO problem with the idea that Swarzak and Duensing might be effective relief pitchers. They both pretty much fit the "failed starter" mold, although Swarzak got his MLB reps more from need than perceived MLB starter stuff/MiLB track record.

    Likewise, I have no problem with the idea that Gutierrez or Waldrop or Guerra or Bromberg might be worthwhile out of the bullpen at some point. Waldrop is probably at make or break time. I'm just not seeing how your historical examples correlate with the list of names the Twins have brought in. Most of these guy just appear to just not be very good at major league baseball. Bulger is 33, which makes a Reyes analogy tenuous, but at least he still struck out guys last year in AAA.

    The reason these guys are cast-offs becomes apparent. You can see that many of them once had some promise, and I it's certainly possible somebody could figure something out or have it figured out for him by Randerson or whatever.

    But to conclude "The Twins are correct to have signed the arms they did and passed on the other proven stuff" just does not follow.

  18. #18
    Excellent article, Seth. As I have said on other threads, I'm one who supports your point of view because there is enough upside to the group mentioned to give it a month of spring training outings to see who develops and stands out before deciding if any trade is necessary.

    Nick, for what it is worth, I do not find your response to roger's comment helpful to the discussions. In fact, it comes off to me as defensive. You write well enough and do enough research to support your opinions that you don't need to be defensive.

    All of us who have come to this site are testing to see if it is a site we are going to visit and comment at regularly, and the general tone of posts and comments is one factor that will influence our decisions. I am here looking for well written, well reasoned opinions and ideas about Twins baseball whether they are supportive or critical of the Twins. This post by Seth is an outstanding example.

    Roger, I hope you continue to read and post on this site because I am interested in reading your thoughts and points of view.

    Thanks again to all of the TwinsCentric gang for putting together this site. I believe it has great promise for being exactly what many Twins fans and would-be bloggers are interested in.

  19. #19
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    It seems like the Tampa Bay Rays are the quasi-Moneyball team du jour, and their success at cobbling together bullpens seems to be the blueprint many posters wish the Twins would follow. But even throwing a million bucks at someone like Wheeler can be seen as a "lottery ticket." There's a reason he changes teams every year.

    I think the Twins' strategy is laudable--mine for hidden treasures without spending much of anything. To characterize all 33 pitchers as mediocre to me is disingenuous--their are a variety of 1st round picks and formerly highly rated prospects in this bunch. Keep in mind this Twins' management is largely the same group that plucked Johan Santana, Liriano, and others from rival organizations. (Don't forget--Santana wasn't such a sure thing; they had to trade UP in the Rule V draft to get him.) So yes, I guess I'm a hopeless optimistic homer who is trying to get a job with the Twins front office.

    Again, whatever money is left unspent in the budget can be spent later in the year to bolster the relief corp--on pitchers who have already proven they are worth it. One example: Brian Fuentes in a 2010 trade-good. Brian Fuentes as a free agent signing in 2011--bad.

  20. #20
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    Well Said, I Concur

    I am still testing the waters as well, and I suppose I will just get used to it--change is inevitable. I only ever bookmarked Seth's site, because it was my favorite, but I almost daily would link to Parker, John, and Nick. It was a quasi-Twins Daily anyway, and I liked that the formatting was different; in a way reflecting their various viewpoints.


    But I'm well aware that I've been reading unbelievable FREE content from all four writers for several years, and I fully support their move. It's not really the mixing of the writers that is a problem, but, as Nick may have been alluding to--the mixing or the readers/commenters. Every reader of Twindaily probably has a favorite writer of the four, and we just need to figure out a way to get along a respect each other's differing points of view, which is the whole point anyway.

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