Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Imperfect Science

We've said it here a lot. Middle relievers are middle relievers for a reason. They're just not talented enough, just not strong enough, just not healthy enough, or just not consistent enough to be starters. Not that there's anything wrong with that. In the grand scheme of distance running, I'm probably a middle reliever. Cool, and probably cooler once I found out in research for this post that former Red Sox outfielder Ron Mahay has made well over ten million dollars between the ages of 26 and 39.

But because they're not really good and not really consistent, you have to pretty much roll the dice on middle relievers. Because one year they could be Okajima 2007 and the next year they could be Okajima 2009 or 2010. And that's what sucks about the Red Sox having this as a need. Pete Abraham gave a short list of relievers the Red Sox are at least somewhat interested in as the Winter Meetings continue. A lot of them, I just say, yuck.

-Mahay: He's 40. He has been under 3.40 in ERA once in the last six years.
-Arthur Rhodes: What, Jose Mesa was not available? The numbers are actually not bad, but neither were Mike Timlin's until he hit a certain age.
-Kevin Gregg: We want to get outs, right? There's no reason to sign this guy. He has NEVER been under 3.40 for a full year. He has been walking guys at an alarming rate or giving up homers at an alarming rate his entire career.
-Matt Guerrier: Maybe we can read his stat sheet like reading that report on Kirk Radomski and Jason Grimsley's steroid stuff. If the whole 2008 season were just blacked out with magic marker, it wouldn't look nearly as ugly. But you can't help but try to figure out what it says under that marker, like the 5.19 ERA, 1.6 WHIP, and 1.4 homers per nine
-Pedro Feliciano: The 1.53 WHIP bothers me a little bit. The fact that since 2008 he's pitched 266 games bothers me a lot. I'm pretty sure JD Drew hasn't played that many games. (Exaggeration, not fact.)
-Brian Fuentes and Scott Downs: Their numbers are intriguing, Fuentes moreso because he's been a closer in freaking Colorado and survived. He's also younger. But...and this brings me to my next point.

The recession is over. It has been several weeks, but the fact that Joaquin Benoit got $5.5 million A YEAR over THREE YEARS is imprinted in my head like Rick James's ring in Charlie Murphy's. His year was video game good this year, but that's just one year. The seven years over 3.70 for ERA this decade and the rotator cuff surgery - was that even a factor? What does that mean Fuentes and Downs are going to get? Holy crap.

I actually do hope the Red Sox get Fuentes. That's the guy I'd prefer. But beyond that, are any of these other guys worth taking instead of finding an internal option? Scott Atchison deserves to keep his job.

Michael Bowden - sure, his stock has fallen, but can he really go from a can't miss #2 starter future starter to a high school baseball coach between the ages of 22 and 24? You gotta think that if he gets a consistent shot as a relief pitcher, he'd do better than Ramram or Delcarmen last year. And if he doesn't? At least he isn't being paid $3.5 or $4 million (Mahay's salary last year) to suck. He's got just as much of a chance to suck as any of the guys at the top of this post.

Even some of the non-Okajima non-tenders might make sense. Nevermind "Taylor, I'mma let you finish," Taylor Buchholz wasn't even allowed to start his Red Sox career. It's very possible that he could return for six figure, as he made just over a million before being non-tendered.

But I can't get amped up about giving $4 million to see Ron Mahay return to the Red Sox fifteen years later. I can't get amped up about Kevin Gregg getting shelled all season for $3 million. I'd much rather take the chances with guys from the inside.

My bullpen: Papelbon with a short leash, Bard, Fuentes, Doubront, Atchison, Bowden, Wakefield.

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