Bullpen woes spawn trade talk

Jon Paul Morosi reports that the Tigers bullpen headaches have the team talking trade. Morosi notes that there have been “general discussions” with the Cubs. Chicago has become a favorite trading partner of Dombrowski with the two clubs completing five trades during DD’s tenure.

Morosi notes that the Cubs may be interested in a right handed hitter who could play center. Like maybe Inge. There is the Alan Trammell factor and a recommendation from the bench coach could come into play.

MLB Trade Rumors throws out the name Ryan Dempster as a potential target. Dempster will turn 31 and make $5.5 million this year, so for 2008 anyways the salaries would work out. Dempster fanned 7.43 per 9 innings last year while walking 4.05 per 9 and posting a 4.51 FIP. In other words he’s a poor man’s Jason Grilli (7 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 3.85 FIP). Well, with some saves.

As for the current bullpen candidates, well, umm, yeah:

  • Matt Mantei’s arm went pop and he’s retiring and was released
  • Fernando Rodney threw for the first time today in a couple weeks. He made 15 throws from 60 feet. But that doesn’t provide a lot of hope at this point given his history.
  • Francisco Cruceta still hasn’t made it into the country.  At this point I wonder if the Tigers could get him through waivers.
  • And Todd Jones was rocked today for 6 runs in an inning.  But that’s probably less of a concern at this point.
  • At least Denny Bautista has looked good in his limited time with 3 scoreless innings.
  • I find it interesting that Yorman Bazardo has only thrown 1 inning. I thought he’d be a strong candidate to make the team given his option status.

The Full Pen

We’ve taken a look at how the Tigers may, or at least how we think (and by we I mean I and the people who agree with me) they may fill out their bench. The bench is one of the few areas of ambiguity in terms of the roster. The other area is the bullpen.

Unlike with the bench, there aren’t too many assumptions to clarify. The only tenet is that the pen will most likely have 7 pitchers and I don’t think that is really up for too much debate. The only way I see that deviating, and even then it’s not very likely, is if Vance Wilson is injured and Brandon Inge serves as the super-sub and back-up catcher and Leyland carries 8 bullpen arms.

Here’s a quick stratification of the options:

Sure Things: Todd Jones and Fernando Rodney.
Not quite sure things but pretty likely: Bobby Seay and Tim Byrdak
Everyone else: Danny Bautista, Yorman Bazardo, Francisco Cruceta, Jason Grilli, Matt Mantei, Macay McBride, Zach Miner, Clay Rapada, Jordan Tata
Maybe in August: Joel Zumaya

The sure things aren’t really worth discussing, at least not now. And while the nomenclature of “sure thing” and Todd Jones may be tough to swallow, he is a lock in terms of his roster status. Byrdak and Seay would probably have to pitch very poorly or very injured this spring to not make the team. Both lefties had solid campaigns last year and Leyland likes carrying 2 southpaw options.

As for everyone else, we’ll go in alphabetical order. Looking at the circumstances, option status will likely to be the driving factor in how the last 3 members are chosen. Eddie has done an excellent job writing up an Options tutorial as well as looking at what those implications could be for the Tigers.
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