Thursday, March 27, 2008

PREVIEWS: Bullpen

As I did in 2007, to preview this year’s club, I’ve broken the team down positionally into categories of how they can best benefit me. I believe this is the best and most relevant way to preview any team.

Which reliever would I most like to see guest host an episode of the View (my favorite hour of television)?

Gary Majewski: last season the Polish Nightmare picked up where he left off when the Reds acquired him from Washington. Over his 32 appearances, he continued his generosity to opposing hitters, giving up roughly 2 hits an inning while maintaining an ERA over 8.00. At least it looks like he worked hard during the offseason to make himself even less effective, as he’s been getting hammered all spring. The nerds at Baseball Prospectus, however, plugged Majewski into their math equations and predict with 62% certainty he will improve in 2008 and 42% that he will breakout. When I plug his name into my math equations, all I get an 80% possibility that I’his favorite lunchmeat is smoked turkey, so I’ll have to take their word for it.

*Update: looks as if Gary is going to begin the season at Louisville and ABC just isn’t interested in someone who can’t make the 25 man roster.

Bill Bray: After a long season of getting injured, rehabbing and getting injured again, it’s no surprise that Bray’s arm began to show signs of fatigue down the stretch (1.93ERA in his first 11 appearances, 14.40 after). He began the season on the DL with a non-displaced hairline fracture of his left index finder and later missed some more time with tendonitis. Overall his numbers look like this: 19 G, 3-3, 6.28 ERA, 9/11 runner stranded, 14 IP, 16 H, 14 K/5 BB. But he was able to grow a sharp-looking goatee once Kyle Lohse was traded to Philadelphia. This offseason, Bray began a new conditioning program which began with the removal of his appendix. The organ is unnecessary (in relief pitchers it can be especially counterproductive) and removal coalesces with goals of the program. Under the new program Bray should be able to quickly return from injury so he can immediately get injured again, then repeat the process several times over the course of the season. Unfortunately for Bray, ABC requires an appendix for all television personnel.

*Update: looks like Bray is going to have to start the season getting injured in AAA. Management insists that he first show that he's earned the right to get injured in the majors.

Todd Coffey: it was a tough season for the undisputed most handsome man in baseball (it seems like all recaps begin with this sentence). He made five separate trips to Louisville and, though he showed the ability to dominate the kids at AAA (1.33 ERA over 19 appearances), he was slightly less effective when facing major league hitters (58 G, 5.82 ERA, 2-1, 51 IP, 43 K/19BB, 12 HR). Not ready to go back to the family asparagus farm in North Carolina, Big Frucking Nasty (the very appropriate name given to him by failed Japanese import Junichi Iwasachi in rookie ball) spent the off-season becoming Medium Frucking Nasty. He stopped eating in bed, gave up both the morning and evening glasses of melted butter, and bought a Bowflex machine. He worked out for thirty minutes, three times a week and now he’s 28 and in the best shape of his life. And while there are few of us who won’t miss his boiler hanging over his snug-fitting baseball pants, the weight loss has taken a tenth of a second off his sprint from the bullpen. If he can learn to get along with Barbara Walters, there’s nothing this guy can’t accomplish including an anticipated 2011 transition from the diamond to television.

Jared Burton: after the Reds dug Burton out of the A’s farm system, he showed up in Cincinnati, grew a beard, put on a braided necklace and after some time on the farm with a legitimate, non-Rule 5 violating injury (diagnosed with “an inability to get out Major League hitters”) and figured out how to throw the ball past some people. In his last 27 appearances (over 26.1 IP) he posted a 1.37 ERA, with only 16 hits allowed and 21K/8BB. And only 2 home runs allowed over the entire season? Someone just didn’t fit in with last year’s bullpen. What you may not know is that Burton has had a subscription to US Weekly for 3 consecutive years. What’s wrong with Brittany Spears? Would working on Hillary Clinton’s cabinet be a super fun job? Which cream makes my face look less old and at the same time shiny and weird? He’s got answers for all of them: 1) her upbringing; 2) no ‘cause Hildog’s too uptight; and 3) Shiseido Bio-Performance.

David Weathers: last season Weathers was as good as he was fat and shit was he fat. In between putting on 30 pounds of chili dogs and becoming the oldest pitcher in MLB history to record 30 saves for the first time, Weathers put together a very attractive statistical line with the exception of the win/loss record): 2-6, 3.59 ERA, 70 G, 33/39 saves, 77.2 IP, 67 H, 48K/27BB. Sure he doesn’t strike anyone out anymore and for some reason the Pirates absolutely kill him but his return to set-up should help the team retain a few more leads. Based upon his versatility, there’s no reason to believe that his skills wouldn’t also properly suit him for a spot on the View. Here’s a shot from his publicist:

Looks like we’ve got a winner but, of course stay tuned for the other members of the bullpen.

Mike Stanton: as with Castro, injury limited the amount of time we got to spend with Stanton last season; he strained a hamstring jogging his fat ass down the first base line after he got a rare opportunity to swing the bat. He did still manage to show up in 69 games, but as his line illustrates, he isn’t all that concerned about pitching effectively at this stage of his career (69 G, 1-3, 5.93 ERA, 57.2 IP, 75H, 40K/18BB). However, the Reds Rocket is happy to report that Stanton and long-term partner, Jesse Orosco, have announced that they will be tying the knot following the 2008 season. The two met at a left-handed reliever conference back in ’03. Both have pitched in over 1170 major league games and enjoy gardening and international travel. The author expects that, with his new peace of mind that comes with a fulfilling relationship, Stanton will be much more reliable this season.

*Update: according to the rumor mill, looks like Stanton is going to be set free and Castellini is going to have to sell a few more wholesale vegetables. Apparently, the Phillies have some interest, for whatever reason. If nothing else, Stanton deserves the opportunity to become the reliever with the most game pitched not as a Red. Give the boy a shot. We're sure going to miss him and his unreasonably high salary.

Francisco Cordero: after the signings of Affeldt and Fogg, some people forget the Reds’ other offseason acquisition, getting Cordero away from the Brewers. Dr. Tiffee put this together following the signing:


The author doesn’t necessarily share his opinion but would be interested in meeting Shelley Long and/or repairing a run-down and possibly haunted mansion. The move simultaneously strengthened the bullpen and downgraded Milwaukee’s, as they were forced to sign sans steroid (though the goggles remain) Eric Gagne after being confronted with the possibility of having an entire season of Derrick Turnbow giving back leads. As both pitchers throw the ball as hard as they can hoping that it isn't hit off the Chevy Tahoe in deep center, either option would work just fine for me.

Last year Francisco became the eighth pitcher to record at least 40 saves in a season in both leagues, joining the exclusive club which includes: Bryan Harvey, Todd Jones and Joe Table. With number like these [0-4, 2.98 ERA, 66 G, 44/51 saves, 63 IP, 52 H, 86K/18BB, 4 HR] and the fact that Cordero hasn’t watched the View since Debbie Matenopoulos was canned (she brought life to the show with her razor-sharp wit), he has earned the right to consider other offers.

Kent Mercker: the Reds Rocket was happy to see the return of Kent Mercker. Sure he spent 2007 pulling his fifth wheel around the county – Branson, Missouri just has so much to offer – and recently received his AARP card in the mail (or some other document which would provide evidence, and thus a segue for a bad joke, of his advanced age) but he has always been loyal to the Reds and has had a nice spring. Should he make the team (which it appears he has, unless Jim Brower's career line reveals "special" time with Dusty), it will mark his fourth tenure in Cincinnati. In 2005, he pitched in 78 games with pretty decent success for an old guy (3-1, 3.65ERA, 45K/19BB in 62 IP). Even if he’s throwing with his right arm this time around, he’s an upgrade over Stanton. And there just aren’t enough guys named Kent around anymore. Brockman and Clark (first name) are fictional, the country (though considered the "Garden of England) is suspect at best and the band from Sweden was initially named the Coca-Cola Kids, which is a terrible name for a band. Fortunately, Mercker classifies himself as a feminist (he drives a Subaru Forester which get s a robust 15 miles to the gallon) and, therefore, demands consideration for ABC morning television. Good luck to you Kent and keep fighting the good fight.

2 comments:

Captain Ron said...

That Cordero picture is hilarious. It conjures up the image of "the scary blackman." Good job perpetuating

Petey said...

hahahahaha TIm you friggin' make my day!