View Full Version : Wake Up and Smell the Coffey

05-06-2007, 05:26 AM
Our bullpen stinks. No getting around it. Thirty games into the season, and the bullpen has emerged as our Achilles heel. Sometimes the relievers are getting clobbered and shellacked. More often, they are frittering away narrow leads or choking in the clutch, losing nailbiters.

Here's the challenge I'd like to pose to Redszoners. You get to fix the problem, playing Krivsky/Narron rolled into one.

But there's a catch. You can't wave a magic wand. For the purposes of this modest, perhaps academic exercise, you cannot trade for anyone performing miracles for another franchise, or sign any free agents or resurrect the Nasty Boys.

All you're permitted to do is to draw from within and to use the resources we currently have under contract. As you see fit, you can cut, demote, promote, reassign or experiment with existing Reds pitchers, either from the major league roster or from any of the minor league affiliates.

The ball's in your court. What would you do?

Having initiated the challenge, I'll outline my own 10-point plan to convert lemons into lemonade. Why 10 points? No particular reason, other than if you can't frame a solution in 10 points or less, you're probably grasping at straws.

1. Santos, bueno bye. Unfair, perhaps. Certainly on the basis of one bad outing. But Santos is expendable, owing to his cheap contract and career ERA. This bullpen needs shaking up, so sacrificial lamb or not, Santos takes the fall in my paradigm.

2. Majewski gets the callup. Yes, he has a 6.55 ERA at Louisville, but he's actually posted a sub-2.00 ERA, except for one meltdown where he surrendered six runs in two-thirds of an inning. Call me a sentimentalist, but he needs a show of support after his sister's untimely death in an ATV accident. And we need to know if he can duplicate his success with the Nationals or whether we were dealt a permanently damaged arm. Now's the time for him to return to the majors and immerse himself in work.

3. Coffey gets to wake up tomorrow as the Reds' closer on a tryout basis. Yes, he's been there and done that, and imploded under the pressure. But you know what? He's fundamentally sound and capable of a wicked delivery as his 17 KO's in 15.2 innings so far this season attests. Experimenting with him again as the closer will add to the strain on his head and shoulders, but if he's going to get a second chance, it's now, when we are 13-17, and going south in a hurry.

4. Hedging my bets, I retain Weathers on board as an occasional closer and the chief right-handed setup man. Weathers hasn't embarrassed himself or the team this season. He's a solid mentor and a good guy to have around.

5. When I need southpaw setup or a lefty specialist, I hand the ball to Coutlangus. He's still green and a little wild, but his 10 KOs and 4.82 ERA in 9.1 innings beats Stanton's 7 KOs and 7.71 ERA in exactly 9.1 innings. A changing of the guard is in order.

6. Stanton doesn't lose his berth on the roster, but does go to middle relief. He can stay there, providing: 1. He steps up his level of performance. 2. I don't hand that assignment to Milton in a last-ditch attempt to salvage the $9 million we're on the hook to pay him this season 3. Bray doesn't return quickly from the DL with a gangbuster rehab.

7. Salmon gets lots of opportunities, mostly in low-pressure situations, but increasingly in meaningful spots if he rises to the occasion.

8. With Santos gone, designate Saarloos as our long-reliever and spot starter. He should be stretched out, so he can be inserted into the rotation on a moment's notice in the event of an injury or a decision to cut bait on Milton, hefty contract notwithstanding.

9. I return Jared Burton to the Oakland A's or try to work out a deal to keep him in our minor league system, recognizing the risk of losing him to another franchise. He's now posting a 10.38 ERA in 4.1 IP at AA. With our bullpen in a shambles, we can't reallly hide him on the major leagure squad. Good idea this past winter, but now it's time to punt.

10. Finally, be open to elevating guys from Louisville who show signs of putting it all together this season, regardless of past injuries or failures. Dumatrait and Gosling are two candidates who come to mind. There are certainly others. Strong franchises don't prematurely write off any of their resources.

05-06-2007, 10:50 AM
Yikes.. that's a tough challenge.

I generally agree with your plan, however..

I keep Maj in the minors longer. I want him to dominate down there and rebuild his confidence. Last I heard, he was going to pitch in the Single A gulf coast league. I have no idea how his health is. Just because he's pitching in the minors doesn't mean he's healthy. If he's healthy, I keep him in the minors until he's dominating. The last thing I want him to do is be nervous up here, have a couple bad outings and get booed everytime he comes in a game. He's still pretty young.. Let him dominate in the minors, and hopefully he'll be useful down the road.

I don't release Santos, because I feel this team has very little depth. We have to plan for injuries. For example, if we released Santos and brought up Maj now.. what would we do if we had a bullpen injury? Calling up Burton or some AAA guy is likely to produce worse results. Santos is very inconsistent, but he's ok for filler for now.

As far as Burton goes, the Reds need to make an assessment at the end of his 30 day rehab.. Is the guy ever going to be able to throw strikes consistently? Is he showing any progress? Because if the guy is going to be Marc Kroon Jr, then go ahead and cut him. If he shows signs of being able to throw strikes, then I hide him as the 12th man on the pitching staff (This is one case where perhaps Santos gets the boot). Yes, it will be painful, but I feel this year is shot, and if Burton can be a help in the future, I'll swallow a couple extra losses this year.

Really, the only solution is to get a solid arm from outside the organization.. Preferably someone that can close or setup.. That would make the entire pen better. I think it would be worthwhile even to get a stopgap closer like Guarado last year (provided the cost is modest).

Wayne really blew it this offseason. He should've given Chad Bradford a blank check to come here (instead of signing Stanton). Or even taking a chance on someone like Baez, who is only 29 (IIRC) is better than signing Stanton.. I mean, Geez, he had plenty of money, why the dumpster diving?

05-06-2007, 10:58 AM
Majewski for Santos.

On Coffey, keep him but give him MUCH more rest. His 18 appearances are way too high. And do not use him as closer.

Stop switching relievers in and out of games constantly. Significantly reduce number of relief appearances by using guys for longer stretches and keeping off the trigger finger.

Eventually, Saarloos, Coffey and Bray should pitch two inning stints frequently. But not two games in a row.

Eventually use Guardado as closer. Eventually get McBeth into the pen.