The Red Sox bullpen put up yet another horrific performance yesterday.
The Tuesday Takeaway
In yesterday’sWhat You Need to Know, I wrote about the stellar performance by the Rangers bullpen over the first 10 games of the season. The Red Sox relief corps, on the other hand, has been as shaky as it was during the team’s September collapse, and its weaknesses were thoroughly exposed in last night’s 18-3 rout.
After Jon Lester was knocked around for seven runs in two awful innings, manager Bobby Valentine asked Scott Atchison to eat some frames in a game almost certain to end in defeat. Atchison did his job for four innings, and Matt Albers chipped in a solid seventh, but then Mark Melancon—who entered with a 22.50 ERA—decided to turn the eighth into a home-run derby.
A look at three middle relievers who could be poised to take a big step forward in 2012.
Those of you who play in mixed leagues rarely have to look at middle relievers for anything more than reserve roster filler, if that. Those who play in AL- or NL-only leagues, however, are well aware of how endgame relief picks in March can play a difference within a season, and nailing the right ones can often turn huge profits. Some relievers, like David Robertson, can be valuable assets even while not getting any saves while others can perform well and then step in for a closer when the closer is injured or ineffective.
Ronnie Belliard and Luis Hernandez head for Triple-A, Brandon Belt breaks camp with the big squad, and Matt Holliday loses an appendix but keeps a roster spot.
By my count (or more accurately, Rob McQuown’s), Christina Kahrl has devoted 952 articles to analyzing transactions, and that’s probably selling her short, since our database doesn’t go back quite as far as her byline. In the first Transaction Analysis entry that I could find, Ozzie Guillen appears not as a manager, but as a shortstop and the owner of an exceedingly low OBP; given that Guillen has just entered his eighth season at the helm of the White Sox, it’s clear that Christina has been at this for some time, and unlike Guillen, she didn’t overstay her welcome before shifting to a new role.
With Opening Day a little more than a week away, here is a look at the projected rosters for each of the 14 American League clubs following conversations with club executives and media members. National League lineups are here. You can also look at the fantasy depth charts at any time to see our latest updated projections.
Where: Mesa, Arizona (Cactus League)
2007 record: 85-77 (1st, NL Central)
New guys:Jose Ascanio, Jon Lieber, Kosuke FukudomeGone guys:Cliff Floyd, Koyie Hill (NRI), Jacque Jones, Jason Kendall, Will Ohman, Angel Pagan, Mark PriorWow, he's still here?Felix Pie has been traded to Baltimore in a deal for Brian Roberts a thousand times in the media, and not once in MLB. With the Orioles having added Adam Jones, it would seem less likely that they'd acquire Pie, leaving the 23-year-old free to roam center field for the Cubs.
Winter grade: A-. Their only move of note-signing Fukudome-was a terrific one, giving them the OBP boost they sorely needed, and solidifying a position, right field, that was a problem in 2007.
NRI to watch: God bless him. Chad Fox, 37 years old and nearly three years removed from his last professional appearance, is in camp. Fox, who we used to describe as "effective when healthy," hasn't been either since 2003. Still, you have to root for a guy who wants it this badly.
Job battle to track: There's no obvious closer, as Ryan Dempster is being moved back to the rotation after a few years of relief. That leaves Kerry Wood, Bobby Howry and Carlos Marmol, all hard-throwing righties, grappling for the job. This seems like a good place for Piniella to re-create his 1990 Reds approach, with no closer and all three guys available for work from the seventh through the ninth.
One move to make: Slapping Lou Piniella with a clue stick. Piniella, who has a lot of good qualities as a manager, indicated last week that his lineup would feature Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Theriot in the top two spots, with Fukudome fifth. The Cubs' biggest problems on offense have been not having enough runners on base for Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. Hitting Fukudome behind those two is a waste of his talents. If Soriano has to bat leadoff because he's fast, fine; at least bat Fukudome second and Theriot down in the lineup where he belongs.