Even a really great meal goes stale eventually.
I desperately wanted the Twins to do more to upgrade the bullpen this offseason, and was supportive of the idea of them pursuing Craig Kimbrel at one point, but I'm out now. I don't really want anything to do with him.
My frustration with the bullpen inactivity was never tied to any one particular reliever. Things have boiled own to that, since Kimbrel is the last man standing, but there were several attractive free agent bullpen pieces out there this winter. The Twins didn't sign any of them. I'm over it.
I'm not saying this bullpen is fine as it's currently constructed. While Ryne Harper has been a pleasant surprise and the backed trio of Blake Parker, Taylor Rogers and Trevor May has mostly looked good, there are some legit concerns about the depth.
But bringing in a project isn't the answer. Kimbrel is one of the greatest closers of all time. There's also a reason why he's still unemployed. Here are a few:
-He has to be rusty. This is item No. 1 with a bullet. There's no way he can possibly be sharp, I don't care what kind of simulated games he may be throwing.
-He had a 4.57 ERA in the second half and a 5.91 ERA in the postseason last year.
-His fastball velocity dropped from 98.72 mph in 2017 to 97.63 mph last year.
-It actually took him awhile to work up to that velocity last season, sitting below 97 mph through April. Yes, he's been working out, but I'd still be concerned it would take him some time to get up to full speed.
-His ground ball rate dropped from 37.0% to 28.2% last year.
-His line drive rate went up from 19.4% to 24.8% last year.
-He had a worse first-pitch strike rate (56.3%) than Fernando Rodney last year.
-He had the eighth-lowest rate of pitches in the zone (36.6%) of the 151 qualified relievers last year.
-He walked 12.6% of the batters he faced last year. That is horrible. It was the 20th-worst rate among 336 pitchers who logged more than 50 innings last year.
In nearly every single positive mention of the Twins I see, there is somebody in the comments who calls for Kimbrel. I get it, I just think the idea of Kimbrel doesn't even accurately reflect who he actually is at this point.
If the Twins seek to improve the bullpen, they should be looking for guys who are trending upward. Or at least, you know, active. Maybe Kimbrel will be great, I don't know, but I am comfortable with another team taking on that project. There are other ways to boost the bullpen.