Tuesday, August 23, 2005

AL Central Team Comparisons: Bullpen

Current ML ERA Rankings

1. Cleveland Indians (2.82)
3. Minnesota Twins (3.13)
4. Chicago White Sox (3.13)
10. Detroit Tigers (3.65)
25. Kansas City Royals (4.83)

Even with the great young arms in the bullpen, the Royals are still near the bottom of the majors. But, that should improve as Sisco, Burgos, Nunez, Wood, Bayliss, etc. improve. The Royals have the makings of a potentially strong bullpen. Unfortunately, every team in the division already has a very strong bullpen, with 3 of the best bullpens in baseball in the division.

Cleveland Indians

Bob Wickman CL (signed thru 2005), Bob Howry (under control thru 2005), Andrew Brown (under control thru 2011), Fernando Cabrera (under control thru 2011), David Riske (under control thru 2006), Scott Sauerbeck (2005), Rafael Betancourt (under control thru 2009), Arthur Rhodes (2006)

The Indians have the lowest bullpen ERA in the majors. But, their bullpen has quite a few older veterans whose contracts end after this season or after 2006. So, the Indians probably can expect for their bullpen to decline over the next few years. However, they do have a few good young arms. Fernando Cabrera possesses an arsenal similar to Burgos with a little less heat (FB mid-90s) and he might the Indians' future closer. The 23-year-old has had a good debut with the Indians, with a 1.08 ERA with 16 K's in 16 2/3 innings. Although the Indians don't have many young relievers, they will likely continue to find effective veteran relievers.

Minnesota Twins

Joe Nathan CL (signed thru 2007; 2008 option), JC Romero (2006, 2007 option), Juan Rincon (under control thru 2008), Jesse Crain (under control thru 2010), Terry Mulholland, Matt Guerrier (under control thru 2010)

Nathan has been one of the best closers in baseball, saving 75 games in 81 opportunities over the past 2 years. Nathan, Romero, and Rincon form a solid core at the back of the Minnesota bullpen. Jesse Crain has an excellent mid-90s fastball and an excellent slider. Crain might be the Twins' future closer. The Twins should have a solid bullpen for the next few years.

Chicago White Sox

Dustin Hermanson CL (signed thru 2006, 2007 option), Neal Cotts (under control thru 2009), Damaso Marte (2006, options in 2007 & 08), Cliff Politte (2005, 2006 option), Luis Vizcaino (under control thru 2007), Bobby Jenks (under control thru 2011), Jon Adkins (under control thru 2009), Shingo Takatsu

Hermanson has had great success as the White Sox closer, ending any debate about the closer's job. Cotts, Marte, and Politte give the White Sox a strong core setting up Hermanson. Bobby Jenks has plenty of upside, throwing triple-digit heat and a good curve. The farm system has a few potential setup candidates, but nothing outstanding. The White Sox bullpen will probably decline some because of aging.

Detroit Tigers

Troy Percival CL (signed thru 2006), Fernando Rodney (controlled thru 2009), Jaime Walker (2005, 2006 option), Franklyn German (controlled thru 2009), Roman Colon (controlled thru 2010), Chris Spurling, Craig Dingman, Vic Darensbourg (last 3 who cares)

The Tigers have a makeshift bullpen that's worked out quite well. Percival is injured and Urbina and Farnsworth were traded. With all of those relievers leaving, it has left the Tigers with an unintriging group of relievers. Fernando Rodney is having a good year out of nowhere and is now the closer. The Tigers will need to make some additions this offseason. They have a few young arms, but not enough to fill out the bullpen.

Kansas City Royals

Mike MacDougal CL (under control thru 2009), Jeremy Affeldt (under control thru 2007), Andrew Sisco (under control thru 2010), Ambiorix Burgos (under control thru 2011), Mike Wood (under control thru 2010), Leo Nunez (under control thru 2011)

The Royals have the youngest bullpen in the league and the most upside. With the exception of Affeldt, these young relievers will be together through 2009. Sisco and Burgos both have the stuff and makeup to be closers. Give all the talent in the bullpen and the relatively cheap price of middle relievers, it might be wise to convert Sisco and Burgos into starters. Affeldt and MacDougal should be an effective back of the bullpen.

Future Bullpen Rankings:

1. Minnesota Twins (excellent closer and setup guys to go with young pitching)
2. Kansas City Royals (lots of upside in the young relievers could put this group up with the Twins)
3. Chicago White Sox (solid core thru 2006)
4. Cleveland Indians (aging bullpen and quite a few relievers to resign)
5. Detroit Tigers (based on what they have now, could easily go nuts in the FA market though)

The Royals have about as much potential as any bullpen in the division, but that has to be translated into results first. But, because of the upside of a bullpen with 5 guys who throw 94-99 mph with plus secondary pitches (Affeldt, MacDougal, Burgos, Sisco, and Nunez), I put them above the White Sox and Indians' aging, but effective bullpens.


At 8:09 PM, Blogger DL said...

This is what I'd classify as a pyrrhic victory. Sure, the bullpen looks promising, but at the expense of pillaging the best talent from an already weak basket of starting pitching prospects. Take away Sisco and Burgos (and to a lesser extent Nunez), and the bullpen suddenly looks less promising.

I'll never understand why the Royals think they're better off getting 140 innings a season out of Burgos and Sisco when they could get 375 out of them as starters, but hey, who am I to question this front office? I have no doubt when the Royals choose a SP with the #1 overall draft pick next year, they'll immediately turn him into a closer.

Allard Baird has watched Glengarry Glenross one too many times.

At 9:00 PM, Blogger SoonerRoyal said...

Both Burgos and Sisco have been great in the bullpen. But, it doesn't seem like the bullpen is a huge need right now. Affeldt and MacDougal are a good 8th and 9th inning combo. Mike Wood has been effective and Leo Nunez will probably be ready next year.

So, I think the Royals could easily add a free agent reliever or two and have a pretty good bullpen. Relievers are far less expensive than good starters. The Royals could sign three top setup guys for the price of one top starters and have the amazing bullpen they are seemingly after.

Then, send Burgos and Sisco to AA or AAA to develop as starters. They are still very young and could learn/improve a third pitch that would help them be a good starter. Had Burgos stayed a starter at AA, I think he might have had a season like Joel Zumaya (Tigers' SP prospect, one of the top SP prospects in baseball). Burgos has similar stuff to Zumaya (about same age too), with an excellent splitter instead of a slurve.

It's hard to figure out how what the Royals are thinking. I just don't see what the point of a great bullpen is if your starters get rocked every night (tonight no exception as usual).

At 10:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's no point in converting Sisco and Burgos into starters until the Kansas City Royals are converted into a major-league baseball team.

At 4:30 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

I wonder if it occurred to Mr. Anonymous above me that perhaps converting Sisco and Burgos is what could help convert the Royals into a major-league baseball team?

Nah. He probably expects it to happen magically, probably with a shower of pixie dust and the faint smell of sulfur...

At 5:09 PM, Anonymous tfn said...

I think it more likely that Mr Anonymous figures that until the Royals change their GM and many other aspects of their administration and coaching, it won't matter what happens to Burgos and Sisco. Even if they throw those guys back into starting, what evidence do we have that the Royals system is able to develop starters?

Just to take the pessimistic outlook, since so many Royals fans are pumping the sunshine these days ;-)


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