In the game I’m watching as I try and come up with a column, Shane Spencer just hit a three-run home run off of Mike
Morgan to turn a 6-2 Diamondbacks lead into 6-5. Monday night, Spencer hit an eighth-inning grand slam off of Bret
Prinz to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 7-4 lead in a game the Yankees would win 7-5.
Curt Schilling, and Byung-Hyun Kim. But if a team has to bring back Mike Morgan a day after Morgan throws 2 2/3
innings of mop-up relief, much less bring him into a two-on, nobody-out situation, that’s a sign that the other eight guys on
the staff suck.
Monday night, Bob Brenly tried to get Johnson through the eighth inning, pushing him to 132 pitches before finally going to
Prinz to protect a one-run lead with two outs and two runners on base. It’s a situation that normally would have called for Kim,
but Kim had pitched in all three games of the Red Sox series over the weekend. Brenly appeared to want to limit Kim to one
inning at most, and may have figured that if he wasn’t going to use Prinz in that situation, when was he going to use him?
Of course, the limited availability of Kim Monday was related to the lack of effective relievers available to Brenly. Sunday,
Brenly had used Kim to finish a 7-3 game after Kim had thrown eight pitches Friday and 23 on Saturday. If Brenly had a second
quality right-hander, Kim would likely have never seen action, and would have been available for a longer outing Monday.
The Diamondbacks simply don’t have many other relievers they can trust. Kim has been the second-best reliever in the game,
Adjusted Runs Prevented, but two of his teammates
(now ex-teammates) have been among the ten worst relievers in the game, Prinz and Eddie Oropesa. As a whole, the D’backs’
pen is slightly below average, with only Kim and Mike Myers (4.7 ARP in 18 innings) having more than a token amount of
Right now, the Diamondbacks have Morgan and Mike Koplove as right-handed alternatives to Kim in the pen, and that’s just
laughable. Even if you assume that Schilling and Johnson will throw most of the high-leverage innings in their starts, that
leaves the other three games out of five that they’ll need not just Kim, but someone to get from Brian Anderson and
Miguel Batista to Kim. The Snakes are solid from the left side, with Myers and Greg Swindell, but it’s going to
take some help from the right side for them to stay atop their division.
Normally, this would be the time to suggest that Joe Garagiola Jr. get into the trade market and acquire some bullpen help, but
there’s no way I can do that in good conscience. In the last three years, Garagiola has traded Vlad Nunez, Brad
Penny, Tony Batista, and Jack Cust for Matt Mantei, Dan Plesac, and Mike Myers. Imploring
him to trade prospects-and really, the Diamondbacks have few players left worthy of the name-for middle relievers is like asking
Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty to make a sequel to Ishtar.
It looks like they’ll have to pin their hopes on the return of a healthy Mantei, who has been a D’back for nearly three years
and thrown 81 1/3 innings for them, taking home about nine million bucks in that time. He hasn’t been worth a darn since
mid-2000, so expecting him to step in and play an important role in the quest to repeat is a long shot, at best.
The Diamondbacks are in good shape as long as the Dynamic Duo is healthy, but as great as they are, they can’t pitch all the
time, and Kim can’t throw the rest of the innings. Shoring up the bullpen-without repeating the mistakes of the last three
years-may be the difference between another jaunt through October and a disappointing early end to the season.
- The Boston Pizza Feed is closed. Thanks to everyone who responded.
Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. You can contact him by
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