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TeamBoone
01-11-2006, 07:37 PM
01/11/2006 1:00 PM ET
Around the Horn: Bullpen
Reds likely to use three relievers in closer role
By Mark Sheldon / MLB.com


Following is the second in a series of weekly stories on MLB.com examining each Major League club, position-by-position. Each Wednesday until Spring Training camps open, we'll preview a different position. Today: the bullpen.
It's a three-word phrase that often leaves an unsettling feeling for those who hear it uttered.

Closer by committee.

Reds general manager Dan O'Brien didn't use the committee term, per se, when recently discussing his club's bullpen for the 2006 season. But nabbing a closer was an offseason need he was unable to check off the list.

"At this point, we haven't been able to find a bona fide and experienced closer," O'Brien said. "We'll continue to look."

In the meantime, look for manager Jerry Narron to mix it up and likely call on veterans David Weathers and Kent Mercker and young arm Todd Coffey for save opportunities.

"It's not the preferred setup," O'Brien said. "But we have to, and Jerry has to, utilize the individuals on our roster and their strengths. He did that last year with Mercker and Weathers."

A very respected setup man by trade, the right-handed Weathers notched 15 saves in 19 opportunities while working 73 games in 2005. Normally a middle reliever after he began his career as a starting pitcher, the left-handed Mercker recorded four saves in seven chances.

The organization's view is that both pitchers also bring some intangibles to the staff.

"They're both veterans," O'Brien said. "They've been in World Series games. They've both gone out of their way to teach, counsel and help pitchers in the bullpen. They're the unquestionable leaders of our bullpen.

"A lot of our success in the second half is not only attributed to their performance on the field, but off the field. The helped with the maturation process of our pitchers."

Neither Weathers nor Mercker throws very hard or strikes out many batters -- which are often, but not always, prerequisites for closers. On the other hand, Coffey is a hard-throwing right-hander with stuff more suited to closing games. In his rookie 2005 season, the 25-year-old was 4-1 with a 4.50 ERA and one save in 57 appearances.

"Coffey really made huge strides last year in the bullpen," O'Brien said. "We still think he has a future in that role. It may be a situation where we gradually give him opportunities instead of throwing him into the fire immediately."

With only one starter pitching 200 innings last season, the Cincinnati bullpen was used often and logged the third-most innings (514) in the National League. But its 4.75 bullpen ERA was fourth from the bottom in the league and opponents' .288 average against and 589 hits put Reds relievers at the very bottom.

One improvement made for the situational roles was adding free agent lefty Chris Hammond, who signed a one-year, $800,000 deal with a $2 million mutual 2007 option in December. Over the past four seasons with four different clubs, Hammond has posted a 2.47 ERA in 221 relief appearances while opposing lefty hitters batted .228. Last season, hitters batted .164 while he went 5-1 with a 3.84 ERA.

For the remainder of the bullpen roles, right-hander Ryan Wagner should be ready after missing the second half of last season with a shoulder injury. Wagner was the club's first-round pick in 2003 and expectations remain high in the organization.

A starter early on in 2005, right-hander Matt Belisle wound up making 55 relief appearances and posted a 4.09 ERA from the bullpen. Right-hander Josh Hancock posted decent numbers in limited appearances, but also spent a large chunk of time on the disabled list with a groin injury. Pitching in winter ball could put Hancock in better position to land a job. Brian Shackleford posted solid numbers after his promotion from Triple-A Louisville, and has a chance to be another left-handed specialist.

A long shot could be Luke Hudson, who missed much of the first half last year with shoulder inflammation. Hudson endured control problems as a starter last season and finished in the bullpen. Right-hander Jason Standridge, a right-hander that was picked up from Texas midway last season, is liked by the organization.

Allan Simpson is a hard-throwing righty but had some control issues. A waiver claim from Houston in November, right-hander Mike Burns split last season between the Majors and Triple-A.


http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/news/article.jsp?ymd=20060111&content_id=1294053&vkey=news_cin&fext=.jsp&c_id=cin

Cyclone792
01-11-2006, 07:46 PM
"At this point, we haven't been able to find a bona fide and experienced closer," O'Brien said. "We'll continue to look."

Where have you been looking, Dan? South Africa?


A very respected setup man by trade, the right-handed Weathers notched 15 saves in 19 opportunities while working 73 games in 2005. Normally a middle reliever after he began his career as a starting pitcher, the left-handed Mercker recorded four saves in seven chances.

The organization's view is that both pitchers also bring some intangibles to the staff.

"They're both veterans," O'Brien said. "They've been in World Series games. They've both gone out of their way to teach, counsel and help pitchers in the bullpen. They're the unquestionable leaders of our bullpen.

"A lot of our success in the second half is not only attributed to their performance on the field, but off the field. The helped with the maturation process of our pitchers."

Intangibles and veteran leadership! Yaaayyyyyy!

Quick, sign me up for 95 wins! :laugh:

harangatang
01-11-2006, 09:35 PM
Brian Shackleford posted solid numbers after his promotion from Triple-A Louisville, and has a chance to be another left-handed specialist.

Yesterday Ryan Wagner suddenly became Brian Wagner, today the Reds' website can't spell Shackelford correctly. It's absolutely unbelievable to me that the Reds can't spell or even know the names of their players.

captainmorgan07
01-11-2006, 09:38 PM
we need to get one closer and stick with it so we can set up roles in the pen plain and simple

KronoRed
01-11-2006, 09:45 PM
I loath veteran presence

Unassisted
01-11-2006, 10:53 PM
Yesterday Ryan Wagner suddenly became Brian Wagner, today the Reds' website can't spell Shackelford correctly. It's absolutely unbelievable to me that the Reds can't spell or even know the names of their players.The current mlb.com beat writer for the Reds has been on the job for about a month. I guess that isn't enough time to learn the names. :rolleyes:

Ron Madden
01-12-2006, 05:14 AM
WOW!!

I know O'Brien and Narron watch every game.

Try as I might, I fail to understand just what these Guys are looking for.

A bullpen made up of greybeards, noodle arms, a little bailing wire and a lot of hope... A Starting Rotation made up of batting tees prone to break down after 4.5 IP. And they are giddy about this??

This Club has ONE strong point the ability to score runs. So O'Brien and Narron decide we lack situational hitting some how we need to maufacture more runs.

They honestly believe Womack and Aurillia will help the Reds score more runs and win more games.

This makes me very sad.

SunDeck
01-12-2006, 08:15 AM
"They're both veterans," O'Brien said. "They've been in World Series games.


Things are looking up! Sign me up for season tickets.

Strikes Out Looking
01-12-2006, 09:00 AM
I know I've said this before but the problem is not the bullpen or who the closer is. The problem is the starting pitching. If you have only one starter who throws over 200 innings, your bullpen will be dead tired by July-August, no matter who is in it. The Reds need to bolster their starting pitchers with those that can regularly go 7 innings (I prefer complete games, but I'm old school). Once you get starters who go 7, it is easier to have a great bullpen.

I don't think thus far this offseason the Reds have found any starters that will really help them. Their only acquisition, Dave Williams, only threw about 140 innings last year. They needed an innings eater and didn't get it.

So, no matter who is in the bullpen this year, expect more of the same....

Redsland
01-12-2006, 03:04 PM
To summarize the article, the worst pitching staff in Reds history and the worst pitching staff in the league last year will be back this year.

:help:

If DanO is actually cashing his paychecks, he should arrested for theft.

BRM
01-12-2006, 03:48 PM
To summarize the article, the worst pitching staff in Reds history and the worst pitching staff in the league last year will be back this year.

:help:


That's not entirely true. The Reds have added Dave Williams and Chris Hammond. They also get Paul Wilson back. :cry: :help:

Matt700wlw
01-12-2006, 05:41 PM
Closer by committee....

Nasty Boys, they ain't

BRM
01-12-2006, 05:55 PM
Here's Rotoworld's take on the Reds closer situation.


Narron and GM Dan O'Brien aren't on the same page here, as O'Brien said last month that Todd Coffey would likely get the job before the veterans would put back in that role. There's also Ryan Wagner, who has the potential to outpitch everyone else in the Cincinnati pen. The Reds better hope that Wagner steps up, because they're going to lose a bunch of games in the late innings otherwise.

Redsland
01-12-2006, 07:33 PM
They're going to lose a lot more of them in the early ones.

RFS62
01-12-2006, 07:36 PM
They're going to lose a lot more of them in the early ones.


Exactly. Worrying about a closer isn't going to be the problem.

And the bullpen is going to be once again worn out early in the season from overwork.

Our crappy starting pitching has a cascading effect of suckitude.

jmbraun773
01-13-2006, 11:32 AM
Once you get starters who go 7, it is easier to have a great bullpen.


Great statement. If you have to depend on the bullpen for 4 or 5 innings almost every day there is no chance of having a good bullpen.

BRM
01-13-2006, 12:33 PM
They're going to lose a lot more of them in the early ones.

What? I thought adding Dave Williams and Paul Wilson to the rotation was supposed to improve it? I thought Eric Milton was going to rebound and pitch like he did in the second half of last season? :p: