Tigers linked to crappy relievers

The Tigers bullpen is clearly the least settled area of the team. The lineup is known, the starting rotation is known, but only a couple of pieces of the bullpen are known. What was already an area of the team that seemed vulnerable is further hampered by the late arrival of Francisco Cruceta and the barking shoulder of Fernando Rodney. So it’s only natural that the Tigers would look to add to the bullpen, which will of course breed trade rumors. The only problem is that the names the Tigers have been linked to just aren’t very good – and most likely not better than what they could get for free.

The latest rumors making the rounds involve the Mets who have had some injuries woes of their own in the outfield. New York needs some right handed pop in the outfield. The Tigers have Marcus Thames. The Mets have some extra arms in the pen. But the names that are being mentioned should cause some concern.

Scott Schoeneweis and Jorge Sosa were the first names being floated.

Schoeneweis has a multitude of things working against him. He’s walked a batter every other inning over the last 2 years, and complements that with a poor strike out ratio of 5.2 per 9 innings. Plus he’s left handed, which with Tim Byrdak and Bobby Seay around isn’t a pressing need for Detroit. And he’s owed $3.6 million each of the next 2 years. So he’s redundant, expensive, and is a couple years removed from his last good season (2005).

Jorge Sosa is cheaper (owed $2 million in 2008), but with problems of his own. Over his last 6 seasons hitters have connected for line drives over 21% of the time with peripherals similar to Schoeneweis. He was awful in 2006, and was below average last year. In 2005 he posted a 2.55 ERA, but with a WHP of 1.4 I’m not sure how.

Earlier in the week there was talk of Ryan Dempster as a potential target from the Cubs. But again, it’s for a below average player that would come at too high of a cost in terms of dollar and players.

Now I realize that the players that were rumored to be in the discussions from the Tigers side (Inge, Thames) aren’t going to fetch an impact reliever. Not to say they don’t provide value to the Tigers, just that they are unlikely to bring much in a trade. But the names that have been mentioned coming to the Tigers aren’t the kind of people you pay for. The same type of production is what should theoretically be found for free in your farm system, or as non roster invites. This is the type of production you get for the league minimum.

I’m all for upgrading the bullpen, but I don’t see the above mentioned players providing more than Bazardo, Cruceta, Bautista, Miner, Grilli, Larrison, Lopez, etc. can provide. They are veterans, but all that shows is a track record of – at their very best – mediocrity. They certainly don’t represent an upgrade that is worth bearing a cost in terms of players or payroll.


  1. Mat

    March 7, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    I agree. If as the season progresses the cheap arms already in the organization prove unacceptable, THEN you make a play for a vet.

  2. Joey C.

    March 7, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Listen, this bullpen situation has me concerned enough to think that the throw-crap-against-the-wall approach might be worth looking into.

  3. billfer

    March 7, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    But why pay extra for crap that you already have?

  4. Mark in Chicago

    March 7, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    It’s nice to dream, but billfer, your point about not being to get much for Inge or Thames is spot on. This is especially true at this point in the season. If it was July right before the deadline, maybe it’s a different story. (Although I don’t know if Inge can last that long without completely shooting his foot off.)

    It’s possible there’s a waiver claim or something, but I would guess that the bullpen arms we start the season with are already in the organization.

  5. Vince in MN

    March 7, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    I think this is all much ado about nothing and is merely a weak attempt on billfer’s part to try and distract us from the much more entertaining and important Inge brouhaha.

    Seriously, however, there really isn’t much out there for relief pitching. It’s a commodity in high demand, with few teams possessing an over abundance of average/above average arms, while most teams are moaning about their own crappy pens. I agree with billfer in that we should stick with the crap we know rather than just adding other teams old crap – more is not always better. The one regret I have is that the Tigs didn’t make an attempt to sign Riske this winter. However, at the time I guess DD had his eye on other concerns, and the bullpen situation just wasn’t an issue. I’m still not convinced that it is even such a big deal now – Miner, Bazardo and Bautista at least seem to be having decent springs so far and can hopefully hold the fort, say in the event Rodney starts the season on the DL. The worst case scenario would be if Jones falters too, in which case we may be toast, because we just won’t survive the 8th and 9th innings very often. But I think worst case scenario chances are pretty slim.

  6. Mark in Chicago

    March 7, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    I wonder if all the trade talk is merely an attempt by Leyland & Co. to light a fire under a couple people to step up and contribute. Vince, you make a good point, between Miner, Bazardo, Bautista, Seay and Byrdak (I would even throw in Grilli – cringe), they have the makings of a capable middle relief corps. If the spring for those guys is an indication of coming success for the year, they are really only in need of one more arm to start the season, whether it’s Rodney, or someone else in house.

  7. Vince in MN

    March 7, 2008 at 6:08 pm

    I was really down on Grilli last year and cringed quite a bit myself. However, I am willing to entertain the thought that it MAY be more perception than reality. The thing with Grilli, is that he is kind of like Jones in a way, in that when he is bad, he can be really, really bad. I think for those of us that the glass is half empty tend to remember and emphasize those poor performances more than the good ones. I’m not willing to elevate him beyond an average rating, but I guess I can live with him, so no more snide “Grilled Cheese”, “Velveeta” comments from me. As any self-respecting baseball fan, I reserve the right to backslide on this promise later, however.

  8. Steve

    March 7, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    Heres my 2 cents.

    No team is set everywhere and we cant lock up the pennant in April.

    We have way better than average run scoring and depending on a couple of guys and when Z comes back we are probably average to slightly better in the pen. I would say we are better than average with starting pitching. So with a few more runs and a little little help from the starters we should be ok when we get to the pen.

    There are plenty of teams that would like to have the “problems” we have.

    That being said hopefully we have enough runs in the ninth inning so Jones only makes Leyland smoke 3 cigarettes instead of the normal 2 cigs per out.

    Looking forward to Baseball – We have 5-10 inches coming this weekend AAAAaaahhhhh


  9. David

    March 7, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    hey guys,

    haven’t posted in a little bit

    IMO again it all comes down to our SP

    1) Out of any position in baseball by far, it is the hardest to predict a relievers stats at the end of a season

    2) If the majority of our starters last more than 6 innings per start usually, that would take a lot of less stress on the bull pen
    – compare 2006 with 2007 our starters were healthy for the most part and so were our relievers, in 2006 our SP had quite a few CG, last year not so much

    3) If more than 1 out of Bondo/Nate/Dtrain aren’t good it really downgrades our chances

    Heres to hoping Verlander Bonderman Nate Dtrain and Kenny all log 190 innings

  10. Brian

    March 8, 2008 at 11:03 am

    My two cents. I think Cruceta and Bautista will make or break the pen. While I don’t think their upside is Zumaya/Rodney in 2006, I think they get close enough to save the pen. They just obviously need to put it together.

    David hit it on the head though. The longer the starters go, the less important the middle parts of the pen become. So while a good bullpen can make a rotation look better, a good rotation can also in turn make the bullpen look better because you don’t have to dip and use those eleventh and twelth pitchers as often.

  11. Joey C.

    March 8, 2008 at 11:57 am

    The quantity of crap is what is at issue Billfer. The general idea is that the more crap you have, the greater chance you have that some of it will stick.

  12. billfer

    March 8, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    Again, why pay a premium for crap when it’s readily available?

  13. Stephen

    March 9, 2008 at 9:17 am

    I’m down at Mets camp, Joe Smith is the prize we want. I don’t think we can get him just for Thames.

  14. Brian P

    March 9, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Hypothetical question. Todd Jones is having a horrific spring training. 24.55 ERA. And he just allowed 4 runs in 2/3 of an inning to the Pirates minor leaguers. The Pirates! If this carries into the regular season, does Inge for Dempster now look like gold?

  15. David

    March 9, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    I checked out Smith’s one vid on his MLB page and looked good – throws sidearm junk to get guys to hit it on the ground.

    I’m really wondering if Shef isn’t producing/injured what happens to Inge and Cabrera.

    Oh yea and since Jones has stunk supremely this ST I’m guessing that his location must be terrible, or hes pitching at a MLB nice 85 MPH batting practice.

    He’s only got what? the Cutter and the Fastball

    I really hope Miner really steps it up and is used more.

    Speaking of Miner who here would be against going to the Yanks and trying to get hothead Farnsworth back – for THames(who was from the Yanks)?

    He was just as good for us in 2005 as Zumaya was 2006

    And he could really be a rock in our pen. – only major injury was kicking an air conditioning unit

  16. T Smith

    March 9, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Somebody allay my Todd Jones concerns here:

    All this talk about middle relief — and yes, yes, the recent buzz is certainly legitimate — but I’m beginning to develop more concern about the ninth inning. Does anyone else have trouble with the umpteen-plus-one ERA from our illustrous closer thus far this spring?

    Am I over-reacting? Should we just expect Jones to settle down when the “games count?” How do you blow a 6-2 lead in the ninth after allowing something like 5 runs in one inning the game before?

    I’m not sure how much one should gauge by what goes on in the spring, but it certainly raises questions marks for me. Who cares if your lineup produces 1000 runs if your closer gives up 1001?

    I exagerate, obviously, but I for one want to see something a little more convincing out of Todd Jones before we ask him to save a one run game in April.

  17. Vince in MN

    March 9, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    T Smith:

    Find a quiet place in the house, and sitting in a relaxed posture with your eyes closed, breathe in softly and deeply while saying “I will not fear Todd Jones”. With a soft and gentle out-breathe say “I will not fear Todd Jones”. Repeat many, many times.

    Hope that helps.

  18. T Smith

    March 9, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    Vince in MN:

    Thanks for the mantra. I shall apply with bated breath and tranquil intent.

  19. Corey in DC

    March 10, 2008 at 9:04 am

    I know one guy that might be an option if we’re even considering Sosa or Schoenweis, and that should be Aquilino Lopez. He has big league experience (I think he’s better than his 2007 numbers), and he’s pitched extremely well in AAA. He’s certainly not a major league closer, but he’s cheap and could potentially pitch in with the 7-8 inning role until/if Rodney and Zumaya can get healthy, or Cruceta manages to bride someone in the US Embassy.