Mike explains why elite middle relievers haven't climbed his tiers, before revealing the latest edition of those tiers and the updated dollar values.
Welcome to another installment of The Bullpen Report. As a reminder, closers are rated in five tiers from best to worst. The tiers are a combination of my opinion of a pitcher’s ability, the likelihood that he will pick up saves, and his security in the job. For example, a pitcher in the third tier might have better skills than a pitcher in the second tier, but if the third tier pitcher is new to the job or has blown a couple of saves in the last week this factors into the ranking as well.
Last week, one of my readers wanted to know why I didn’t have a middle reliever in the top tier. Although middle relievers are integral in some leagues, I have not been ranking them due to the fact that their value is vastly different depending upon each league’s rules. In leagues that use holds as a separate category, non-closers carry a great deal of value. In standard mixed leagues with no start limits, you might not feel the need to carry a middle reliever on your staff at all. My goal is to take a cursory look at a handful of valuable middle relief arms in a non-holds, deeper-league, standard Roto format.
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Smart GMs don't pay for the brand name, but for the product. These players might have baggage but they get the job done as well as their expensive counterparts.
The free agency period, which got underway over the weekend, is a time when smart teams tread carefully, aware that the market contains as many potential pitfalls as it does opportunities. Land a high-profile free agent and you’re likely to improve your team, but you’ll also run the risk of succumbing to the Winner’s Curse, the tendency of a team to have to overpay for a player in order to outbid all his other suitors.
However, some less prominent players with lower contract demands stand a chance to approximate a more expensive player’s production, so a team can always try to cut costs and minimize risk by looking for comparable players with a little less buzz. Just as a smart shopper saves on over-the-counter medications by buying generic instead of paying a premium for a patent and nice packaging, a smart GM ignores name recognition in favor of production and price.
If Oliver Perez can start in the postseason, surely Tim Lincecum can too.
The table below lists the worst regular-season performances by pitchers who made playoff starts in the wild-card era, ranked by park-adjusted ERA relative to league average (similar to ERA+, but tweaked a bit). League average is 100, twice the league average is 0, and 1.5 times the league average is 50. As you can see, I’ve added one starter (in bold) who isn’t yet in this group, but is probably about to be.
With Omar Minaya rumored to be in the running for the Angels job, we present for the first time at BP.com, our review of his tenure from Baseball Prospectus 2011.
If you had to script an end to the Omar Minaya era in Queens, you couldn't have outdone reality: Oliver Perez, the $12 million-a-year albatross in the Mets' rotation, pitching for the first time in a month on the last day of the season, promptly walked three straight batters to send the Mets home losers in extra innings. A sarcastic chant of “M-V-P” followed the first out that Perez recorded during the debacle, and illustrated how fed up the fanbase was—not just with Perez, but with everything the pitcher and his contract represented.
Perez embodies so much that was wrong with the mindset of the Mets’ previous administration under general manager Minaya. The Mets gave Minaya his first genuine GM job, since his mandate as the league-appointed guardian of the dying Montreal Expos had included overseeing a form of organizational euthanasia, as opposed to the involuntary manslaughter he could be convicted of for bringing the Mets' roster to its knees. While he had his successes in New York, there were far more misses, and they all came back to one fundamental and repeated problem.
The Mets have banished Oliver Perez to the bullpen, but perhaps they should consider completely cutting ties.
On May 9, Oliver Perez lasted just 3 1/3 innings against the Giants, issuing seven walks and surrendering four runs. Five days later, he was removed after a mere 3 2/3 innings when the Marlins tagged him for seven runs. A couple of days after that, the Mets were presented with a decision regarding the future of their high-priced yet ineffective left-hander. It had become clear that his spot in the starting rotation was hindering the overall performance of the team but ignoring his hefty $12 million salary is no small feat.
Lee Panas looks at the bullpen situations in Cleveland, Tampa Bay, and Texas.
With Kerry Wood out for six to eight weeks due to a strained muscle in his back, Chris Perez is the new Indians closer. The rest of the bullpen will also take on a new shape from the set-up man down. Jensen Lewis is a fly ball pitcher with a 1.2 HR/9 rate since 2007. However, he also owns an 8.2 K/9 rate and has experience in high leverage situations having been the Indians closer in 2008. Heater Indians writer Brian La Shier believes that Lewis will be the set-up man in Wood’s absence.
Joe Smith has a 67% ground ball rate and 8.1 strikeouts per nine innings since 2007. However, he gets hit hard by left-handed batters making him unsuitable for a full-time set-up role. Southpaw Tony Sipp boasted a 2.92 ERA and struck out 48 batters in 40 innings as a rookie reliever for the Indians in 2009. Sipp pitches equally well versus left-handed and right-handed batters but has struggled this spring as evidenced by his 2.29 WHIP. Smith and Sipp will pitch in high impact situations versus right-handed and left-handed batters respectively when Lewis is unavailable.
Figuring out what goes wrong when high-upside hurlers veer out of control.
What can be done with the potential-laden hurler who can't control his pitches, who is able to complement his plus-offerings with only random flashes of brilliance, and can just as unexpectedly drop into extended bouts of ineptitude? Because of their promise and raw talent, struggling power pitchers can be repeatedly given shots as reclamation projects as teams try to find a formula for extending those brief flashes into consistent success. Pitching coaches and some analysts might tend to focus solely on the solid outings, meticulously working to isolate the components, either mechanical or psychological, that go missing during their down periods. Very few of these pitchers are able to harness their talents without major adjustments, yet they're still able to command lucrative contracts on the market, based more on their potential upside than on any actual results.
With that in mind, it's time to play everyone's favorite game, "Guess That Pitcher!" Here are the seasonal averages, from 2006-08, of two wild and crazy guys: