August 6, 2006

CRAP SHOOT:

The Pen Remains Mightiest: Teams Making Playoff Push Understand the Importance of Relief Down the Stretch (Dave Sheinin, 8/06/06, Washington Post)

The most coveted commodity at this year's trade deadline wasn't a middle-of-the-order bat, or a No. 1 starting pitcher. Only a handful of the former and none of the latter changed hands last month. No, the piece every contending team sought was that most elusive of baseball creatures: the dependable relief pitcher.

No fewer than 18 big league relievers changed hands between July 1 and July 31, underscoring once again how difficult it is to construct a championship-caliber bullpen in today's game. [...]

For proof of how impossible it is to build a great bullpen, look no further than the New York Yankees. At their best, during the late 1990s dynasty, they had the formula nailed -- first with Mariano Rivera setting up for John Wetteland, and later with Mike Stanton and Jeff Nelson setting up for Rivera.

But since those days, the Yankees, for all their riches, have been unable to duplicate that formula. They spent $22.25 million on Steve Karsay, $7.25 million on Tom Gordon and, most recently, $17 million on Kyle Farnsworth -- all in an attempt to build a dependable bridge to Rivera in the ninth inning.

So why is it so hard to build a great bullpen?

The simple answer is because relievers, more than any other specific type of player, are alarmingly inconsistent from year to year.


Which makes it insane to give a middle reliever a big contract in the off season.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 6, 2006 8:21 AM
Comments

In Kansas City it's known as "pulling a Mark Davis!"

Posted by: Bartman at August 6, 2006 9:02 AM
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