Each and every time our bullpen either blows a game or puts the outcome of an ostensibly 'sure' win in jeopardy (more simply stated, every time we have to go to our 'pen), we heave and moan for bullpen help.
Predictably, each and every time the subject comes up, someone mentions the fact that it is July (same goes for April/May/June), and there really isn't anything available this time of year.
I beg to differ.
Following is a list of teams who are out of it, or very close. These are teams that know there is no post-season in store for them this year.
Baltimore. 39-45, 4th place in the division, behind the BoSox and Yanks. Quite a few intruiging Bully prospects here.
Chris Britton, RHP. 23 years old. 6'3"/278 lbs. 2.51 ERA. In 28.2 IP, has K'd 28 and BB'd 9. Probably would not have to give up much to get him, and would likely help this bully, although he is not a long relief candidate. Also low salary
LaTroy Hawkins, RHP. You all know who he is. Has a 3.82 ERA this year, 14 k/9 bb in 35.1 IP this season. Not a world-beater, but a guy who could help us out immensely. Might not have to give up much to get him, but does come with a moderately high price tag/4.4 mil this year.
Todd Williams, RHP. 35 years old. 6'3", 219. 3.90 ERA in 194 career IP. Moderately effective MR who should come cheap. Would be an immediate improvement.
Shawn Camp, RHP. Career ERA of 4.58; this year 3.13. Not a young guy who projects to have a lot of future value, so it wouldn't cost us Drew Stubbs to get him. Cheap contract as well. Could be a guy who could do us some good.
Ruddy Lugo, RHP. Young pitcher (24 y/o) who may be TB's closer of the future. May not be interested in dealing him.
Jae Seo, RHP. Starter the Rays just acq who is painfully average in that role, but might be nice in middle relief. 30 year old who does not project to be anything special, and cannot help the Rays in any tangible way. Could be a guy who could help us in a middle-to-long-relief role. Makes 350k this year, so he comes cheap.
Dan Miceli, 35 y/o m/r. Started out as the Rays' closer, but failed miserably. Honestly, as bad as our bully is, he cannot help us. Danger, Wayne Krivsky...
Seth McClung, 25 y/o starter who has been pulled from the rotation. Many speculated he would replace erstwhile closer Tyler Walker while he was injured. Comes cheap (343k this year), but just isn't good at pitching. Might make an adequate middle reliever someday, but likely will be out of baseball in 2 years. Hope we stay away here.
**Note - the Rays have tons of other guys who could have been mentioned here, but I left them out in the interest of brevity. None of the guys I ignored (with the exception of Tyler Walker - left him out as it appears the Rays want him to be their long-term answer at closer) will factor into our future plans.
Rafael Betancourt, RHP. 31 yr old career reliever w/an ERA of 5.40 this year, and a career ERA of 3.36. He qualifies as a "veteran," and his skills seem to be decreasing with age. He's the kind of guy Jerry Narron would love. Let's hope Krivsky has no interest. Makes 365k this year.
Guillermo Mota, RHP. 32 year old flame-throwing righty who never fixed things after being installed as FLA's closer to begin the '05 season and imploding in the role. Has nasty stuff and throws hard, but is very hittable. Would be nice to take a chance on a guy like this, and CLE will be more than willing to unload him and his 3.0 mil salary, but we sure can't afford it and, quite frankly, he's not worth the $$$$$$$$$.
Danny Graves, RHP. 32 Year old former closer for the Cincinnati Reds who has grown out his hair after being denied a spot in the boy band "98 Degrees" for a 5th time. Opposing hitters are batting a robust .305 against the Pop Idol this year. If the Reds bring him back, I will personally choke Wayne Krivsky with the tube sock Danny Graves shoves in his jock strap.
Scott Sauerbeck, LHP. 34 yr old recently-released MR. Makes 1.2 mil this year. May be a little too much to pay for a guy who just isn't getting batters out this year. However, was born in Cincinnati. Rick White was a hometown guy as well.
Todd Wellemeyer, RHP. 27 yr old who makes 347,500 this year. Claimed by the Royals after being released by the Fish. Throws hard and can be nasty at times. Better than almost anyone we have in our pen not named "Coffey." Honestly, we should have claimed him when he was available.
Jeremy Affeldt, LHP. 27 yr old former closer who makes 1 mil this year. Career 4.81 era. Couple of injuries in his past. We wouldn't have to give up a lot to get this guy, and he could replace the recently-released Hammond, Kent Mecker, or hell - both. Royals would almost assuredly be willing to deal him to rid the 1 mil salary and add a minor leaguer.
Jimmy Gobble, LHP. 31 yr old middle reliever, former starter. 3.67 ERA this year, 5.05 career. Moonlighted as a starter, but has settled nicely into a relief role this season. Makes 345,500/yr and could come cheap.
All teams are conceivably still in contention, although the Angels are closest to being sellers. They could offer guys like Donnelly and Shields. If they fold and we remain in contention after the upcoming month, they are a likely trading partner. Do not discount the possibility of us dealing a young OF (Kearns?) to them for Ervin Santana.
Franklyn German, RHP. 6'7' 26 yr old who was once seen as a future closer. Recently DFA'd by Florida. Cleared waivers on June 10th and was sent to their AAA affiliate. Again, I know he's no Lee Smith, but he's gotta be better than Esteban Yan and Dave Weathers, and he did briefly close in the past. May be worth a flyer, and he would come cheap.
Joe Borowski, RHP. 35 yr old closer for the Marlins. Makes 327k this year. Fish MGR Joe Girardi has publicly expressed a desire to let guys like Taylor Tankersley and Logan Kensing try their hands at closing, and it is no secret Borowski is not in their future plans. Cheap salary, and would not require a big name prospect to land. Pitching well this year. Could resume closing duties for Cincy and send Coffey back to set up duty, where he is clearly more effective. I really hope Krivsky at least calls about Joe.
Ricky Nolasco, RHP. 23 yr old pitcher who has started 9 games for FLA and relieved in 11. Makes 327k. Talented pitcher who may command a prospect or two in trade, but could help the Reds. However, Marlins are only 1.0 game behind Philly in the division. May have to wait until they are completely eliminated to think of acquiring Ricky.
Perennial winner struggling mightily this year; perhaps the only NL team with a bullpen that can even be mentioned in the same breath as ours. Appears former starter Jorge Sosa has assumed closer duties. Former Red and Opening Day Closer Chris Reitsma is on the DL. Guys like Kenny Ray, Mike Remlinger, Macay McBride, and Oscal Villareal are critical to their success, and the Braves will NOT be sellers this year unless they are mathematically eliminated at the ASB. Forget John Smoltz. Besides, the Braves always fleece us in trades.
Jon Rauch, RHP. 6'11" MR making 335k. 3.23 season ERA in 42 IP. 46 K/18 BB. Could be available, although it seems to me the Nats do not think they are in rebuilding mode. Could step in and provide immediate help for the Reds. Nats are nowhere near playoff contention.
Gary Majewski, RHP. 26 yr old MR w/a 3.20 ERA. Quality MR who makes 352,500 this year. A young guy who probably factors into WASH's future plans, but could be dealt, I would assume. Price tag likely too high for Cincy.
Felix Rodriguez, RHP. 33 yr old MR w/a 6.85 ERA. Used to be a formidable MR who seemed to be on his way to a career as a dominant closer. Now stinks and makes 800k per year. Stay away.
Mike Stanton, LHP. 39 yr old MR. Useful everywhere he's been. Could help Cincy w/o a doubt. 1 mil salary. Would be a nice pickup. Veteran who could also provide a nice presence in the clubhouse. 4.76 ERA this year. Not what he once was but, again, would undoubtedly help. Marked improvement over Shack/Mercker.
Cubs and Pirates are both definitely out of it, but won't make any significant deals with a division rival. Would love to lift Howry from CHI and Hernandez from PIT, but I just don't see it happening; at least right now. Another intriguing idea is to try to trade with PIT for Oliver Perez.
All teams are still very much in the race. No real trade opportunities out there.
While there may not be any Cy Young candidates available on the cheap, think it's clear that there are guys out there who can help this team.
While it would be great to have the Nasty Boys all over again, we do not need that to make the playoffs this year. What we need to do is pick up a couple of good bullpen arms without giving up our few blue-chip minor league prospects. There are guys in the above list who could be Reds tomorrow if need be.
Let's do something, Wayne. "Blow it up. Make it yours."