Ripple Effect on Relief

In the past few days, both Scott Linebrink and Francisco Cordero left Milwaukee to sign massive four-year contracts. Those two signings have significantly affected an already thin market for middle relief, in several ways.

The most obvious, of course, is that those two pitchers are now off the market. Additionally, the Brewers now must find two arms to replace them — certainly they’re not looking at Guillermo Mota as an option to fill either of their roles. At minimum, the Brewers need to find a closer, as it’s doubtful they’ll send Derrick Turnbow to the end of games again. But, there aren’t many closers available — which means they’ll be looking at setup men, quasi-closers, and failed firemen such as Brian Fuentes, Octavio Dotel, and Troy Percival. The demand for those types has a trickle-down effect, and suddenly drives up the value for fringe guys such as Salomon Torres. Whereas two weeks ago a team might have been able to pick up, say, a Dan Wheeler in an under-the-radar deal, now it will likely take a decent prospect to pry him away from the Rays. Not to mention what the Nationals will be asking for Chad Cordero.

Which way will the Mets go? Will they send two top prospects to Washington for the “other” Cordero? Would they give up a Kevin Mulvey for a Fuentes or Wheeler? Will they give the questionable Dotel or Percival an overvalued two-year, $16M deal? Or will Omar’s scouting staff continue to scrape the waiver wire and the winter leagues in search of the next Chad Bradford and Pedro Feliciano? Or will they do something that should have been done six months ago, and tell both Philip Humber and Mike Pelfrey to get used to pitching from the stretch?

Should be interesting to see this develop over the next few weeks.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. Micalpalyn November 24, 2007 at 3:07 pm

    Where to start:
    a. We have 3-4 relievers; Aaron (who I’d trade), Wags (who I’d keep right now), feliciano and possibly dirty sanchez. I exclude Sho for obvious reasons.
    b. In 2006 We had Loop and no one.
    c. For 2008 We have options: I wanted to trade Wags but at this time with Cisco and Mo not options Wags is it. However I am inclined to fill the 7th and 8th innings with other high risk high return options: Ryan wagner, Eddie Guardado are names that intrigue me. Also I ‘d give a long look to Octavio. If i traded AAron I’d be in on affeldt and or Macdougal. But DEFINATELY one of my short relief spots goes to Humber.

    i would not even call jim bowden.

  2. sincekindergarten November 24, 2007 at 3:18 pm
    Mic, I’m not sure that I’d want Humber in a short-relief slot–I’d put Pelfrey there. Why? Pelfrey had his curveball taken away from him by The Jacket, and he’s throwing a slider instead, which is a work in progress (though he had flashes of brilliance with it). Humber still throws his curve, and it’s a honey of a curve. The problem is that a curve isn’t a late-innings pitch–supposedly, one wants to go more with a slider at that stage.

    I’d also look at Dotel.

  3. joe November 24, 2007 at 10:41 pm
    Tell that curveball theory to Adam Wainwright or Gregg Olson. 🙂
  4. isuzudude November 25, 2007 at 8:59 am
    Mic: Joe went through the trouble of detailing how difficult it’s going to be to get decent bullpen arms this offseason, and your response is to trade our best reliever in Aaron Heilman? Unless it’s for Johan or Bedard, I don’t want to see Heilman going anywhere but to the mound at Shea. And then, your best idea to replace Heilman is with “risks” like Dotel, Guardado, Ryan Wagner (coming off torn labrum surgery FYI), and bums like Affeldt and MacDougal? All of these options should do nothing but further re-inforce how important retaining Heilman is. I think with the trade of Mota the bullpen becomes a whole lot easier to fix. If Omar and Willie jointly remove the “long-reliever” role from the pen, we’re looking at our 7 relievers as Wagner the closer, three lefties Feliciano, Collazo, and Schoeneweis the LOOGY, and three righties Heilman, Muniz, and Sosa the ROOGY. I like the idea of replacing Collazo with a “risk/reward” Guardado, as long as his role is not solidified as 8th inning setup man. I would also really like Riske signed to replace Muniz/Mota. I think that’s a damn good bullpen right there. And it leaves youngsters like Collazo, Muniz, Smith, Pelfrey, and Humber still available in the minors or to trade, and guys returning from injury like Sanchez and Padilla not pressed into throwing important innings right away. Some may say having 4 lefties (including Billy) in the bullpen as overkill, but I say as long as your in a division with the Phillies, having as many lefties to work with is always a good plan.

    Also, check back to 2006 and see that Looper was already on the Cardinals. Perhaps you meant 2005, but also check back to that year and see Heilman, Roberto Hernandez, and Padilla all had fantastic seasons out of the bullpen that year, so perhaps you’d like to revise your stance.

    You are right about not trading Wagner, though. I came out with that request, as well, after the collapse was complete, but looking at how the closer’s landscape has suddenly shrunk (Rivera gone, Cordero gone, Lidge traded, options on Izzy and Nathan picked up), trading Wagner would just leave us with another hole to fill and nothing available to fill it with. Plus, his no trade clause makes it kind of hard to deal him anyway.

  5. skibolton November 25, 2007 at 11:07 am
    Agreed, trading wagner makes absolutly no sense. I think it’s just too costly to sign any guys to multi-year deals right now. By next winter, many of these guys will be available for trade with the signing team eating some of the contract.With Wagner, Heilman, Feliciano, Sanchez, Smith, Schoenweis, Padilla, Muniz, and Collazo, the Mets have as many good arms in the bullpen mix as anyone. Adding more arms would be nice, but on the free agent market, it would kill any roster flexibility the team has. Unless they find guys with options on waivers or available via trade, I’d stand pat for now. I think adding a guy like silva would go much farther than affeldt or riske. I definately wouldn’t trade heilman, unless the return was a top flight starter. He’s just too valuable in the bullpen. I’d think he’d probably get a similar deal to linebrink on the open market right now, and would be difficluct to replace without giving up a major piece.
  6. isuzudude November 25, 2007 at 1:00 pm
    mega-dittos skibo. i would sign at least one pitcher for our bullpen (with riske my #1 pick), which then leaves a spot remaining to be occupied by a guy with options, like Collazo, Muniz, Smith, etc. That gives us flexibility throughout the season to bring guys up and down according to effectiveness and injury.

    But as pointed out many times before, it may not necesarily be the arms in the bullpen, but how Willie chooses to use them, as the key to having a successful relief corps. Not overusing your best arms and letting starters go deeper into games are the biggest issues to keep an eye on as 2008 unfolds.

  7. whatdatmean November 26, 2007 at 8:27 am
    i may be the only one to say this, but i dont think it will take a lot to get this bullpen in shape, we are right there, even if we trade heilman. The biggest problem last year was its overuse and misuse. The hopefull addition of 1-2 SP will alleviate some of the problems. Assuming they will carry their usuall 12 pitchers, 5 being SP, we need a total of 7 RP:
    Wags, Feliciano, Showenweis are guaranteed. 4 more to go…
    1-sosa-showed he can be very effected both situational and multi-innings, resign him
    2-Sanchez-SHOULD be fully recovered, if not, plan ahead and find a replacement
    3-AAA spot-with smith seeing the bulk of work, pelfrey or humber can also fill in here as well. Brugos, muniz, collazo, + padilla could see time being brought in/out AAA as needed when one begins to wear.
    4-FA signing[affeldt, riske, herges, hawkins]
    That makes 7
    wags closes, feliciano/sanchez for 7/8th inning, sosa, show, AAA for short relief, 6th, and blowouts.
    Looks like we only need 1, 2 if we dont keep sosa, who i like out of the pen.
    humber and Pelfrey shouldnt be overlooked, and it would be good for their development if they are still on the team.
    Pelfs power, an only facing a lineup once, will help him. Humber’s curve will be a varience to the BP we dont have.
    But it would be nice to add atleast 1 SP to take the pressure off. We have to have atleast 2 guys in AAA just in case pedro or duque see DL time[at the same time], and 1 option may be our #5 guy if we fail to trade or sign a SP. That would press the BP more. For every start that replacement makes, we are looking 4-5 IP max, and there could feasibly be a stretch where that is 3 out of 5. yikes!