The odd Beltran-Raburn move

That didn’t take long. The Tigers are already raiding the Mud Hens bullpen promoting reliever Francis Beltran. Beltran was a non roster invitee this spring and one of the last cuts. He should be your basic replacement level type arm in the pen. But I don’t understand the corresponding roster move at all.

To make room for Beltran Ryan Raburn was optioned to Toledo. Now Raburn’s only time on the field was in a pinch running role on Friday. And the emergence of Clete Thomas has made Raburn somewhat redundant. Still, with Gary Sheffield injured the Tigers bench consists of Marcus Thames and Ramon Santiago now. So there will be no apprehension on the part of the opposing manager when it comes time to bring in a different armed pitcher.

There was a time when I suggested the Tigers might go with an 8 man bullpen to avoid losing players who were out of options. Of course at the time Fernando Rodney was healthy, Tim Byrdak hadn’t imploded, and there was every expectation that Francisco Cruceta would get in the country.

It may be a short term move with Jim Leyland knowing that the bullpen had been taxed the previous day and he may have been expecting a short outing from Dontrelle Willis. He probably also knows he can’t (or at least shouldn’t) use Jason Grilli again for the rest of the homestand.

The move came down the same day that Fernando Rodney suffered another set back. I view this as nothing more than coincidence because I doubt that Ryan Raburn was only on the team because Rodney was injured. Sadly, given Rodney’s lack of progress and our earlier conversation with Will Carroll, I doubt that we see Rodney at all this year – or perhaps ever again. The fact that his shoulder problems showed up so early this year, after a season which was injury plagued to begin with, can’t bode well. At this point I view a Joel Zumaya return as more likely than a Rodney one.

16 Comments

  1. Brian P

    April 6, 2008 at 11:58 am

    I just read the Freep article saying Grilli wasn’t available yesterday because of neck stiffness. Perhaps he incurred the damage while following Pierzynski’s homer over his head. But more likely, this was a phony injury to save Leyland’s “resilient arm” some booing embarrassment.

    Where in the world is Carmen — err, Francisco Cruceta? We need every chance at finding another gem like Bautista. At what point do we have to try putting him on the restricted list?

  2. JimMcKee.com

    April 6, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    I just hope that Dombrowski is out there reliever-shopping.

  3. Kathy

    April 6, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Shame about Rodney, but I always got the impression he wasn’t fit for the pressure. At times he was great….very few times. He got his 2 year year contract, though.

  4. Andrew

    April 6, 2008 at 12:48 pm

    This sucks.

    A season of high expectations and hopes by the Tigers’ faithful is eerily turning into a nightmare.

    Wonder what thoughts are going through the players’ minds?

  5. David

    April 6, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    From Yahoo Fantasy:

    “Apr 5 In his first start for Double-A Carolina on Thursday, Maybin crushed a home run estimated between 475 and 500 feet, the Miami Herald reports.

    Recommendation: If he keeps hitting like that, he won’t stay down in Double-A for long. ”

    No sting to that but kind of interesting.

  6. Dave BW

    April 6, 2008 at 1:07 pm

    I think that Cruceta is already on the restricted list.

  7. Chris in Nashville

    April 6, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Nothing but good news here huh? Geez..this season has started off about as poorly as it possiby could have. I still think this team is going to be fine. There is just too much offense here to be held back. They have a tough schedule the first month of the season, but it gets easier and they should be getting Granderson and Sheffield back (hopefully) full strength. Hopefully they can just get back to around .500 over the first month and then just take off.

    It could be a blessing in disguise to have Inge playing early on..especially if he keeps playing well. I’ve been pleasantly surprised with Inge’s play so far, and if he keeps it up, a team that needs a 3B will make a move to get him. We HAVE to go out and get an 8th inning guy. It’s clear we aren’t going to have Rodney or Zumaya anytime soon, if ever this year. Who knows how effective they’ll be and how long they’ll hold up if either of them do? We need to make a move and get a guy and if either comes back, the bullpen is just that much stronger.

  8. Tbone

    April 6, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    I don’t think even the most pessimistic among us could have foreseen such a grim start to the season. All the team weaknesses have been exposed and magnified – injury, streaky hitting, chemistry and pitching.

    We knew this bullpen was going to be serviceable at best coming in. Hopefully they can maintain focus and keep us in some games. Leyland doesn’t have many confident choices right now.

  9. rich

    April 6, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    i heard ken rosenthal say that ppl he talked to were saying rodney was an arm thrower vs a leg thrower so his incident of arm trouble was far more likely.not sure i ever heard anything like that before

  10. Andrew

    April 6, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    I just read on Curtis Granderson’s blog at ESPN that he is having his secondary x-ray today. He hopes (as do the rest of us) that it looks good and he can get back to baseball soon.

    We could really use some good news on the injury front these days.

  11. Kevin in Austin

    April 6, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    100% agree with Chris in Nashville. I’d even be willing to give up Renteria or Guillen to get a closer as well.

  12. Vince in MN

    April 6, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    I hate to say this, but given the shakiness of the bullpen, combined with Leyland’s weakness in handling a bullpen (quite a few incomprehensible moves/non-moves last year), I have the feeling that we may see quite a few late inning implosions this year.

    And now we have a 13-man staff, and with Sheffield day-to-day, a two-man bench – ?????.

  13. Pat in Carolina

    April 6, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Kevin, I’m not sure if Chris in Nashville was implying that we give up someone like Guillen for a closer. While I agree that the most positive part of this season is Inge upping his trade value, it is hardly ever a good idea to give up proven position players for bullpen help.

    Just ask any Phillies fan after the Polanco for Urbina trade.

  14. Eric Cioe

    April 6, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    Guys,

    Last I checked, Todd Jones hasn’t pitched badly this season. The offense hasn’t even scored as many runs as their average was projected to be. The most runs that have been scored this year is 5, and they’re supposed to average a little less than 6. The bullpen isn’t losing games, though they aren’t performing really well either. The offense needs to hit more. Given the quality of the players, they will. This isn’t like the Sox having a bad year last year because Konerko wasn’t any good. We’ve got the AL batting champ, a perennial MVP candidate, a top 3 center fielder, four guys that hit over .320 last year, and a good switch hitting first baseman. The offense is losing games right now, not the pen. That’s ok, though, because they will begin to improve. There is no way Maggs hits .250 this year, for example.

  15. Michael Smith

    April 6, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Unfortunately, I think we have seen the last of Fernando Rodney. I don’t think we’ll ever see him pitch for the Tigers again.

  16. Chris in Nashville

    April 6, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    Yeah, I wasn’t talking about trading anyone other than Inge…Thames would be alright too, but the problem is, not sure we can get what we need with just those guys…that’s the rub for making all those trades this year, no prospects to trade other than Porcello and I don’t think he should EVER be traded.